HARARE-- Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba has called on the police to be professional in the discharge of their duties during elections so that the credibility of the polls remains unquestioned, while slamming the behaviour of the law enforcers during past polls.

In a no-holds delivery at a training workshop here Thursday for senior police officers in preparation for the harmonized elections due in July, Justice Chigumba described the past relationship between the police and ZEC as acrimonious.

She said there were reports of police officers who were openly demanding electoral statistics from polling officers then radioing the information in the full glare of the public and observers. "We do not know where these statistics were being channeled to but we do know they were not being sent through the ZEC structures, she said.

Such behaviour has thus created an impression that the ZEC and ZRP are devious players in the electoral field.

She said the behavior of ZEC officials and the police was crucial in shaping public perception on the credibility of elections.

We cannot afford to have this happen during the 2018 harmonized elections because it sends the wrong signal to the observers as it undermines the independence of the ZEC, she said.

She said the police should exercise their function of maintaining law and order, a crucial ingredient in the holding of a

free, fair and credible election in which people freely expressed their will. It was imperative for the forthcoming polls to be

seen as free and fair given the international spotlight on the country following the removal for former President Robert Mugabe.

Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga said the police was doing all within its powers to prepare officers to fully discharge their duties during the elections. Cognizant that a safe and secure environment is paramount for the holding of free, fair, transparent and credible elections before, during and after, the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) shall deploy adequate police officers at each polling station to maintain law and order, and above all, provide immediate

assistance if called upon by the presiding officer, he said.

He called upon political parties to conduct peaceful campaigns and allow divergent political opinions to prevail. Special police investigation teams had been set up to investigate disturbances and cases of political violence, he said.