Police in Zimbabwe are voting early in the country’s general elections, despite an attempt by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party to prevent the decision, saying the number voting was inflated.
Hundreds of police officers lined up to vote in the capital, Harare, early on Sunday morning. Along with soldiers, who are also voting early, they will be on duty on the official July 31 polling day.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had asked the High Court on Friday to stop the special two-day vote, saying that the 69,000 police officers set to cast their ballots on Sunday and Monday far exceed the 44,133 shown on a Ministry of Finance salary schedule for the whole country.
“We are saying where is this excess number coming from because they are not on the government payroll? How does the police commissioner general account for the 69,000?” MDC lawyer Harrison Nkomo told the Reuters news agency.
Tsvangirai, making his third attempt to end Mugabe’s 33-year hold on power, said nothing had been set in place to ensure a fairer vote.
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Harare, said President Robert Mugabe’s explanation was that the remaining 20,000 plus police officers who will cast their ballots are reserves who also have the right to vote.
The court will hear the case on Monday.
The run-up to the election has been peaceful, but the process has been criticised as poorly planned, underfunded and plagued with irregularities.
“The finance minister has told the press there is no money in the country to hold elections,” said Mutasa. “Not just this special one for police and soldiers but the main one on July 31 when the rest of the country participates in polls.”
But our correspondent said Mugabe had tried to assure the public that the money is there.
“There is talk of asking neighbouring countries to donate … a lot of speculation where it will come from, but certainly officials are telling people to be patient and that the money would be available come July 31,” she said.