Police yesterday cited Norton constituency as one of the country’s potential political hotspots given the animosity between incumbent MP Temba Mliswa (Independent) and his Zanu PF rival Christopher Mutsvangwa.

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Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga told journalists in the capital that the hotly contested constituency is among many “hotspots” dotted around the country with potential of political violence flaring up.

He said they have deployed over 71 000 police officers across the country, including members of the Special Constabulary, to ensure an incident-free election.

“We have increased police visibility through focused deployments of personnel throughout the country in the build-up towards this election and we shall continue to do so on the day of election as well as the period after the election. Furthermore, identified hot-spots prone to political violence and other volatile areas are being monitored on a continuous basis,” the police chief said.

“We have identified quite a number of hotspots, but for now, I can talk of one. Though there are no physical fights, I can say Norton is one of them. There has been exchange of words and police have been deployed accordingly. There are other areas across the country and we are available to give that information, it’s no longer a secret. We must talk openly about them.”

With MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa openly agitating for confrontation with authorities over what he termed Zec’s biased decisions, Matanga warned police would not fold their arms.

“As Zimbabwe Republic Police, we remain steadfast in enforcing the law. In line with the Electoral Act, no person should interfere with a voter’s right to secrecy while casting their ballot,” he said.

“We also urge leaders of political parties and their members to refrain from making irresponsible, inflammatory statements or pronouncements which may incite irresponsible or even violent behaviour.”

This came amid reports of massive intimidation of voters, particularly in the rural areas.

Independent electoral watchdog, the Election Situation Room (ESR), in a statement yesterday said: “Intimidation had taken many forms including preventing people from attending rallies, prevention of people leaving party rallies and threats on how one should vote with the idea that voting will not be secret.”

ERS also raised a red flag on the text messages which Zanu PF sent to voters recently soliciting for votes, describing it as a “worrisome development and a classic case of intimidation”, as citizens are raising serious concerns on how the party managed to access their accurate personal information.

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