24 April 2008

Zimbabwe: More ZEC Officials Arrested for Electoral Fraud

Harare — A POLICE constable and a presiding officer in the March elections were arrested on Tuesday in Masvingo for electoral fraud.

Police also arrested a former MDC councillor and one other person for voting twice in Gutu.

Police chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said several other officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission were also arrested for discrepancies noted at polling stations where they were working.

The arrests follow the ongoing recounts being held in Bikita South, Gutu North, Zaka West and Masvingo Central constituencies.

Asst Comm Bvudzijena said Sheila Masvaure (43) the presiding officer at Matsvange Business Centre and Constable Kachasu were arrested for electoral fraud.

It is alleged that Masvaure and Kachasu were on duty on March 29 2008 at the same polling station when they were approached by nine people intending to vote whose names did not appear on the voters' roll.

Masvaure instructed Kachasu to verify the status of the nine voters with the command centre where he was advised that all the nine did not appear on the voters' roll.

"Masvaure and Kachasu connived and allowed the nine unregistered voters to vote.

"The voters' register is indicating that 272 voters cast their votes but the total vote slips are 281," said Asst Comm Bvudzijena.

In related matter, former MDC councillor Benard Gono had his name cancelled twice in ward 18 of Masvingo Central constituency, showing he allegedly voted twice.

His name was cancelled in the voters' roll at Chamakondo Clinic polling station as well as at Chekayi Secondary School.

"Gracious Mutimozho's name was cancelled twice in ward 13 of the Gutu North voters' roll at two polling centres namely Gutu Chiefs' Hall and Gutu United Primary School.

"Mutimozho has since been arrested for contravening Section 87 of Electoral Act Chapter 2:13 for double voting," said Asst Comm Bvudzijena.

"In the same constituency, police are interested in interviewing Danmore Naiti (24) whose name was cancelled at Gutu Chiefs' Hall and Mupandawana High School."

It has also been discovered in Gutu North constituency that five ballot papers could not be accounted for at Gutu Chiefs' Hall as 239 cancellations were made in the voters' roll with one voter's slip recorded in the protocol register giving a total of 240 voters.

A physical recount showed 245 votes giving rise to suspicion that the extra five were ghost voters, said Asst Comm Bvudzijena.

At Mvimvi polling station, a polling officer was allowed to vote with a voter's slip but this was not recorded in the protocol register. Follow-ups are being made to verify the report.

At Makumbe School, two council ballot papers with serial numbers 0000481 and 0000568 were found unmarked and had been credited to Toperesu E of MDC.

"At Senate level, an unmarked ballot paper 00100312 was credited to Zvinavashe V M G of Zanu-PF and another unmarked ballot paper 00100215 was credited to Makamure K E of MDC. The presiding officer is being investigated under the Electoral Act," said Asst Comm Bvudzijena.

"At Njiva Primary School two votes had been switched from Zanu-F to MDC for the parliamentary seat. The presiding officer is being charged for contravening Section 174 of the Criminal Code and Reform Act Chapter 9:23 for fraud."

Police are investigating a number of ZEC officials following some discrepancies.

Innocent Chumunhu is being investigated for failing to account for four votes cast in ward 23 at Muchechetere Primary School in Zaka.

Tasunungurwa Munumbi is also being investigated for fraud after the register had been found with an excess of 94 votes.

Asst Comm Bvudzijena said 345 people had been cancelled in the voters' roll while 25 had been registered in the protocol register.

"Tobias Changara was arrested for switching two Zanu-PF presidential ballot papers to MDC while three ballot papers could not be accounted for. Emmanuel Chezhara was arrested for switching two Senate ballot papers and one presidential vote from Zanu-PF to MDC.

"Two others, Alexander Jaya and Saviour Mapfumo are being investigated for inconsistencies in the number of voters cancelled in the register against the votes cast," he said.

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