The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been forced to make a major about-turn after it confirmed that police officers countrywide had voted and are voting through the postal system. The admission came less than 24 hours after Zec had dismissed news reports of police officers voting in Bulawayo as hogwash and very stupid propaganda. On Thursday, ZEC chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana said,
This is hogwash and very stupid propaganda because in the first place they have photos of a police officer standing near a ballot box yet with postal voting, a voter does not use a ballot box. This is cheap propaganda without substance at all. This is coming from a person who does not even understand the process. The pictures they put have nothing to do with postal voting and these people just want to cause despondency in the country.
Silaigwana later changed his position and said the postal voting was indeed underway. He also said that there was no need for Zec officials to be present during the process. Speaking to state media, Silaigwana said,
The postal vote process is underway. We have indeed dispatched some of the postal ballots not only to the police but all those who are eligible, including those in foreign missions. Since we have already dispatched some of the postal votes, we are expecting them to be casting their votes wherever they are and we are now waiting to receive back the postal votes so that we can take them to the respective polling stations…There is nothing wrong with the absence of ZEC there because remember let us say someone is Darfur on peacekeeping mission or someone is at the embassy in the United States, do you think ZEC can be in all those places?
State media newspapers, The Herald and The Chronicle have also deleted their online articles in which Zec had dismissed the reports of police officers as propaganda. Unfortunately, for The Chronicle, it had already printed a hardcopy with the story as the lead.