1 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Early Poll 'Rigging' Feared With Soldier Voter Registration Exercise

An exercise to register soldiers and police officers in certain parts of the country is raising fears that vote rigging is already underway, ahead of elections expected this year.

Mobile registration services have been launched in and around Bulawayo by the Registrar General's office, with registration points located in Nyamandlovu, Umguza and other districts.

This week hundreds of soldiers and police officials were bussed into these areas for registration. SW Radio Africa's Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme reported that this service has so far only been offered to members of the security forces.

"The concern now from people here is that while it looks like a noble thing, these are people (soldiers) who are usually forced by their superiors to vote for a particular party," Saungweme said.

He said that in Umguza constituency, the stronghold of ZANU PF Minister Obert Mpofu, the MDC-T would never have a chance of winning in elections because of the concentration of military barracks and police units there. He said, "all these people are being ordered to vote for ZANU PF."

"They will be told how to vote come election time, so it means the election is already being rigged," Saungweme said.

This report has been backed up by the Zimbabwe Independent which this week also reported on a police exercise to actively campaign for ZANU PF ahead of the elections.

The paper reported that in recent weeks police commanders have been touring police stations countrywide urging officers, their spouses and everyone else to register for elections and vote ZANU PF. The paper quoted unnamed police sources who said the commanders were following orders given by Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri in December.

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