By RadioVOP Correspondent
Harare, April 11, 2016 – THE Commissioner-General of Police, Augustine Chihuri, is sleeping on duty as he has dismally failed to establish special police units to investigate cases of politically-motivated violence and intimidation arising from the election as stipulated by the Electoral Act, a poll watchdog has said.
The Election Resource Centre (ERC), a think tank and advocacy institution on elections and democracy, in its Mondoro-Mubaira National Assembly by-election report said Section 133J of the Electoral Act must be fully implemented.
“There are institutions mentioned in the Section which are not fully executing their mandates as dictated by the Act. These are the Human Rights Commission, the Police Commissioner and the National Prosecuting Authority (in this case referred to Attorney General).
“These institutions play a fundamental role in reducing environmental challenges witnessed in previous by-elections such as violence, intimidation, abuse of office by traditional leadership,” the Tawanda Chimhini led institution reported.
“Immediately after an election is called, the Commissioner-General of Police, in consultation with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, shall establish one or more special police units to investigate cases of politically-motivated violence and intimidation arising from the election.
“The police officers constituting the special police units established in terms of subsection (1) shall investigate as expeditiously as possible all cases of politically motivated violence and intimidation that are referred to them by the police, a multiparty liaison committee, the Commission or the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission or are otherwise brought to their attention,” reads subsections 1 and 2 on Section 133J of the Electoral Act.
ERC, whose vision is a Zimbabwe where credible information, inclusive democratic and electoral processes at all tiers of society, said the institutions must be held accountable for failing to execute their mandate.
“Institutions mandated by the Electoral Act to ensure there is no violence and intimidation in elections must be made accountable for failing to do so, especially in the face of continued intimidation.
“Additionally, there is need to amend the Section to replace Attorney-General with National Prosecuting Authority,” read part of the report.
The ERC assessed the pre-election processes through tracking the nomination, voter registration, voter education and voter inspection processes conducted by ZEC.
The organisation also observed the campaign process, the general election environment, media access and compliance to the electoral legislative framework.
The ERC witnessed instances where some traditional leaders delved in electoral processes without express or implied mandate from ZEC but rather from political parties and candidates.
Through interviews with eligible voters, the ERC gathered that some traditional leaders compiled and kept “registers” of both prospective voters and those who would have cast their votes.
The organisation bemoaned high levels of youths apathy in elections as characterised by prominence of elderly people witnessed queuing at voting sites.
The organisation also called for electoral reform ahead of the 2018 harmonised election which is 29 months away.