POLICE have set up an election command unit to tackle election-related violence cases ahead of this year’s polls, a senior police officer has said.
by XOLISANI NCUBE
Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the development at a media training workshop in Harare, yesterday.
“The Commissioner-General of Police Godwin Matanga has set the tone for elections and has appointed commander for elections, Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Mukodza together with an elections committee based at Police General Headquarters.
“The elections committee plans, and gives guidance to all provincial commanders on all election matters and it also co-ordinates with other critical stakeholders in the electoral process,” she said.
Zimbabwe has experienced politically-motivated violence in previous polls and the police have been accused of being partisan, with the opposition being mostly victims.
Charamba said so far, the officers were being trained on election management and on laws related to elections, in a bid to avoid misdeed that occurred in previous elections.
“This period is very fundamental to the police, as failure to properly handle it may affect the entire process. From experience, a lot of clashes occur between opposing political actors. We are hopeful that in the new dispensation this is not going to be the case,” she said.
Charamba said going forward, the law enforcement agencies would not be involved in partisan politics but will be there to provide peace and security to all actors—regardless of affiliation, colour, race or tribe.
“As a way of managing the pre-electoral phase related conflicts, the police will be guided by section 133J of the Electoral Act, which deals with investigations, prosecutions and trials of cases of political motivated violence and intimidation,” she said.
The media workshop, facilitated by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, aimed at capacitating journalists on how to cover elections and avoid being caught up in election-related violence.