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ED Blasts Allies For Using Police As Polling Officers

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has launched an uncharacteristic rebuke of his Zanu PF allies for roping in the police in running the ruling party’s just ended primary elections.

In a statement, Mnangagwa said this was a violation of the country’s laws which he urged a stop to.

During former President Robert Mugabe’s era, it was almost routine for Zanu PF to drag police and army officers to manage party polls, with soldiers roped in enmass to manage the 2013 primary elections.

Lately, reports have linked the abuse of the country’s police force as polling officers for Zanu PF’s primaries.

“A story in one of our local dailies alleges that Zanu PF abused police officers and other security agencies during its primaries over the weekend either as polling officers or running other party chores,” Mnangagwa said in a statement released released by the acting Information Regis Chikowore.

“The story creates the wrong impression that the alleged abuses were sanctioned by His Excellency the President, Cde E.D Mnangagwa in flagrant violation of the country’s Constitution and against his own pledge that State institutions would not be partisan, thereby undermining their constitutional roles as impartial arbiters in the electoral process.

“The story also suggests that it is the official policy of Zanu PF to enlist the involvement of security arms in party chores and processes. The President in his capacity as both leader of a political party and Head of Government wishes to make it abundantly clear to all and sundry that it is neither the policy of Zanu PF nor the direction of Government, through him, to deploy the police force or any arm of the security establishment in helping with any party function, least of all as presiding or returning officers in party primary elections.

“Any such instances, which might have occurred in the just-ended party primary elections would amount to a breach of Zanu PF policy and certainly a flagrant violation of the laws of the land which must be roundly condemned and stopped forthwith.”

President Mnangagwa said any party officials or officers of the security establishment caught abusing arms and personnel of security would be dealt with “severely”.

“Let it be known that conflation of party and State institutions as might have happened in the past will not be allowed under the new dispensation where the electoral playing field must be seen to be fair and even,” he said.

“Having said this, it must be acknowledged and accepted that our law enforcement agencies should and will be deployed to ensure law, order and the preservation of peace wherever people gather, including for political purposes.

“Government relies on all those in political leadership to send this clear message to their parties and their membership.”

The Zanu PF presidential candidate in elections due this July is keen to win his first popular mandate as the country’s number one.

Oflate, he has been keen to project a good image of himself and a break from his predecessor’s dictatorial past.

Some of his first moves as President was to whip the country’s partisan police force into line.

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