HARARE – Zanu PF officials and traditional leaders who are allegedly demanding voter registration slips from prospective voters during the ongoing biometric voter registration (BVR) must be arrested, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has said.
This comes after Glen View North MDC MP Fani Munengami claimed that Zanu PF legislators were at the forefront of forcing villagers to submit their names and details such as serial numbers of voter registration slips to community chairpersons and other community leaders as a way of intimidating them into believing that their voting choices will be traced in the 2018 election.
Munengami claimed traditional leaders — who are taking delivery of brand new off-roader vehicles from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration — were at the forefront of the scam, that he said was fomenting the fear factor in the rural areas.
“Everyone, regardless of which political party they belong to, if they act unlawfully, there are police officers who are assigned to protect and ensure that the laws are not broken,” Ziyambi told the National Assembly.
“So, if there are any unlawful actions being done during voter registration, the police officers will be there to do their work and arrest unscrupulous persons who disturb peace.
“What is lawful in terms of voter registration is written in the Constitution. If there is something that you notice is unlawful, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) officials will be present for you and the police officers will also be there. Lawful actions should therefore be followed which is according to the statutes”.
Ziyambi, however, went on to accuse the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of failing to adequately educate voters ahead of the BVR exercise to protect them from intimidation by politicians.
“Voter education is conducted by Zec and if it along with other stakeholders had educated the voters, they would know that this has no effect because they would have been empowered,” Ziyambi said.
“However, we have already indicated to Zec that they should scale up their voter education campaign to make sure that this is resolved once and fall.”
Independent observers and poll monitors have reported a marked increase in interference and abuse of the on-going BVR exercise by the ruling Zanu PF in the countryside.
In a report released recently, Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) noted that Zanu PF officials and traditional leaders abused the registration process by intimidating the rural folk, despite safety assurances by Zec.
This comes as political parties have also written to Zec complaining about intimidation being experienced at registration centres.
On the other hand, religious groups have raised concerns over the conduct of some officers whom they say are failing to respect their practices.