The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: 'Uniformed Forces Have Right to Vote'

Members of the uniformed forces have a right to vote and there is no need for people from across the political divide to make noise when they are urged to register, a Cabinet minister has said.

Home Affairs Co-Minister Theresa Makone said there was nothing sinister when officials encourage members of the uniformed forces to register as voters.

She said like any other Zimbabwean, members of the uniformed forces should exercise their right to vote.

She was speaking to journalists in Harare yesterday after meeting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials.

"There is no need to make a lot of noise over their registration as voters because they have got that right," she said.

"Infact, they are supposed to be registered just like every Zimbabwean because they have that right. I do not see any reasons for complaining."

This comes in the wake of private media reports that Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri had directed all police officers to register as voters and check their names on the voters' roll ahead of this year's harmonised elections.

The reports said Commissioner-General Chihuri dispatched the information to police stations countrywide through a radio communication in December last year.

Minister Makone said voter registration was open to all members of the uniformed forces, including the police.

The uniformed forces include members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe National Army, Air Force of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Prison Services.

"This is a 365-day exercise which is open to everyone and everytime," Minister Makone said.

"People are talking because the registration exercise becomes tense whenever we are towards an election. This is the period when different political parties take different positions."

She said voter registration would be ward-based and everyone should produce proof of residence in the form of sworn affidavits, utility bills and confirmation letters.

Police officers and ZEC officials vote earlier as most of them would be on duty on the voting days.

The same applies to civil servants who will be on duty.

Government has already indicated that no registration facilities would be extended to people in the Diaspora.

Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week said anyone wishing to register should do so.

Minister Chinamasa said Zimbabwe was the only country implementing the Sadc guidelines on elections set in 2003.

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