Police ban political parties from door-to-door campaigns

May 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

OFFICER Commanding Harare Suburban District, Chief Superintendent Reggies
Chitekwe, this week summoned the main political parties to Harare Central
police station to announce the ban of door-to-door campaigns to curb
political violence which might increase as the country heads for general
elections this year.

By Wongai Zhangazha

The announcement by Chitekwe comes after the MDC-T launched a door-to-door
campaign two months ago, which led to a series of arrests with the latest
being that of 19 party activists and later five more for allegedly
conducting an illegal voter education exercise.

Addressing about 50 people from the main political parties Zanu PF, MDC-T,
MDC and Mavambo/Dawn/Kusile, Chitekwe said this was an official directive to
curb political violence and protect citizens.

National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi confirmed the
meeting on Wednesday, saying it was Chitekwe’s responsibility to ensure
safety of residents who fall under his district.

Nyathi said: “The regulating authority is given powers to assess situations
in their areas as far as security is concerned. It’s his duty to consider
safety of citizens. There have been incidences when some of these
door-to-door activities are held in the evening, on private properties and
this might end up in violent incidences. We encourage the move taken by the
regulating authority.”

Areas that fall under Chitekwe’s district include Avondale, Mabvuku,
Borrowdale and Marlborough.

However, MDC parties’ activists said the move was unfair as Zanu PF has been
embarking on door-to-door campaigns since early this year without any
arrests taking place.

They described the move as part of a police campaign to block mainly the
MDC-T from freely mobilising its members ahead of this year’s make-or-break
elections.

Lately Zanu PF supporters have been accused of carrying out door-to-door
voter registration exercises in a number of high density residential areas
checking whether names of citizens above 18 years of age appear on the
voters’ roll.

Those not found not on the voters’ roll were asked to go and register while
the registered were given membership forms. This has been alleged in areas
like Mbare, Dzivarasekwa and Glen View, among others.

A Dzivarasekwa resident who preferred anonymity said: “Known Zanu PF senior
members in the area have been conducting their own door-to-door checks of
the voters roll. This started way before the launch of mobile voter
registration. When they came to our house they had this thick book which we
thought to be the voters roll.

“Some residents complained of being forcibly given Zanu PF forms to fill. We
ended up filling in the forms because who are we to say no. We stay with
these people in our neighbourhood and we don’t want trouble when elections
come.”

The voters’ registration exercise has descended into chaos as thousands of
citizens fail to register to vote to long queues and restrictive
requirements, particularly proof of residence. Cabinet has made a resolution
to relax the requirements but registration officials are refusing to
implement the directive, saying they have not yet been officially informed.

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