By Nkosana Dlamini
Police officers resident in Harare’s Chikurubi Support Unit Camp and prison officers at the adjacent complex voted overwhelmingly for opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate Tendai Biti in the just-ended Harare East parliamentary by-election, official results have indicated.
According to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) results, Biti polled 7 534 votes against close challenger Mavis Gumbo (Zanu PF)’s 3 045.
Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC Alliance polled 114, UZA 100 and LEAD 25.
But what is specifically telling of the vote outcome is that police officers, spouses and dependants as well as prison officers appear to have cast their ballots in preference of the Zanu PF rival at Pangoola Polling Station, Ward 9 in Harare East.
The polling station is for Chikurubi Support Unit police camp, a residential compound predominantly occupied by the feared police para-military unit often accused of brutalising the opposition during street protests.
Chikurubi Maximum Prison officers also use the polling station which saw the former Finance Minister poll 2 018 votes against Gumbo’s 984.
MDC-Alliance got 11, UZA 11 while Linda Masarira’s LEAD got 2.
The Zanu PF government is reportedly aware it does not enjoy any support from the police and has demonstrated its lack of trust through deployment of the army on duties that are constitutionally reserved for the law enforcement agency.
During the military coup against then President Robert Mugabe 2017, the army reportedly seized control of the armoury at Chikurubi Camp while there were also viral images of some police officers being tortured by soldiers at parliament building.
Also speaking on condition of anonymity, a top government official confided in Zimstar News that the army was instead deployed to quell the ill-fated August 1, 2018 post-election protests in central Harare after results at Chikurubi indicated that police had voted for the opposition.
“That was a strategic move. The government did not want to take chances after what had just happened when police voted for the opposition,” he said.
Police officers are disgruntled with the Zanu PF led administration that continues to offer them meagre wages, over and above the tough macro-economic situation in the country that has made life unbearable for the majority.