A ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (Zec) officer has been arrested for allegedly canvassing votes for an independent candidate during a council by-election held in Gweru last month.
Ephraim Hodzi (37) appeared before Midlands Provincial magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa facing one count of canvassing for votes.
Hodzi through his lawyer Mr Brian Dube pleaded not guilty to the charge. He is out free on bail. Hodzi applied for discharge at the close of the state’s case and the ruling would be made on Thursday.
Prosecutor, Mr Andrew Marimo said on July 23, Mrs Maria Dzamira was the presiding officer at Mambo Secondary School in Gweru during the Ward 7 poll.
“The accused was one of the polling officers who were vetting voters at the entrance before entering the room to cast their votes.
“On the same date there was Chemedzai Maburo in the queue waiting for her turn to cast her vote,” said the prosecutor.
During that time, the court heard, Hodzi whispered to her saying, “Vote independent, vote independent.”
“The complainant didn’t respond at the time and went through the voting process. The accused them made gestures to her to check if she had done as per his instruction,” said Mr Marimo.
He said outside the polling station, Ms Maburo informed a Zanu-PF agent what had transpired.
The matter was reported to the police leading to Hodzi’s arrest.
Zanu-PF won the poll to claim a seat that had been in the hands of the MDC-T since 2008. The election was triggered by the death of Gweru deputy mayor councillor Artwell Matyorauta in April this year due to a heart problem.
Cde Stanford Mukotami of Zanu-PF polled 571 votes against an independent candidate, Mr Artwell Matyorauta, the late deputy mayor’s son who secured 317 votes.
Another independent candidate, Mr Josh Katazo garnered 143 vote. chronicle