Army ‘not intimidating opposition supporters in rural areas’: Police

Colonel Everson Mugwisi represented the ZDF while Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba

HARARE = Zimbabwean police said on Tuesday they have received fewer reports of election-related violence ahead of the July 30 poll than in previous campaigns.

“Prevalence of violence is less compared to previous elections,” police spokesperson Charity Charamba told journalists.

“President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been preaching peace and there is compliance from all political parties. There is commitment and goodwill.”

She denied opposition reports that the ruling Zanu-PF had deployed the military who were intimidating opposition supporters in rural areas.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the People’s Rainbow Coalition led by former vice-president Joice Mujuru have complained about soldiers warning villagers they would face dire consequences if they vote for the opposition

The police, who have been accused of bias in the runup to previous elections, have vowed to demonstrate impartiality in handling any breach of electoral laws.

Intra-party violence

Erasmus Makodza, the officer in charge of election policing, said there were more cases of party infighting that between rival factions.

“There are more cases of intra-party violence than inter-party and we have managed to arrest 95% of the perpetrators,” he said, indicating police had also received reports about campaign posters being defaced or pulled down.

The police “will deal with anyone who engages in any form of electoral malpractice without fear or favour”.

Later this month, Zimbabweans will vote in their first election since the ouster of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe after a brief military takeover in November.

Mnangagwa, 75, who replaced Mugabe and is favoured by the military, will face opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, 40, in the presidential race in which there are 23 contenders.

He has pledged credible elections, free from the violence and intimidation that have tainted previous votes in Zimbabwe as he seeks to revive the country’s moribund economy and mend strained ties with the West.

In 2008, then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, won the first round of the presidential election but fell short of attaining the votes required to be declared the outright winner.

He pulled out of the run-off, citing violence against his supporters which left at least 200 dead. Tsvangirai died in February.