Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi has failed to share charges the state security agency is laying on 41 Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and Election Resource Centre (ERC) officials, arrested on election day.

An unnamed unit of the ZRP raided three hotel rooms and offices from which Election Observers from ZESN and ERC were collating results from across Zimbabwe as part of its parallel voter tabulation process. The results were meant to assist both ZESN and ERC in their final reports.

Their process, similar to the one that was undertaken by Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) backed Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) was deemed illegal by Nyathi.

Speaking to journalists at ZRP Headquarters in Harare, Nyathi however struggled to explain why FAZ operatives, seen less than 100m away from Polling Stations, were yet to be detained in a similar way.

“In terms of the Electoral Act who is supposed to announce the election result? Who is allowed to collate results? Regards that may I duly refer you to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in terms of further clarity as far as we are concerned a crime has been committed and the laws of the country must be allowed to take effect.

“We are not arresting to investigate, you will see when they appear in court. Definitely, the charges are there, they contravened the country’s laws.”

“As far as we are concerned as the voting process was underway, we ensured no one interfered with it regardless of a particular institution or person’s stature or status,” said Nyathi.

Besides activities by FAZ, ERC and ZESN are not the only observers independently collating results for verification upon announcement by ZEC. FAZ officers were witnessed verifying people’s names on the voters’ roll and later writing the names and choices of those who had cast. Their desks titled “Exit Poll Survey” were stationed at most times less than 100m from stations.

Nyathi told journalists they had decided to arrest the 41 after noting that they could announce Zimbabwe’s presidential result on August 24: “The results were to be announced on 24th August 2023 as promised by Citizen Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is handling the matter on behalf of the 41 who include an unnamed minor. The 41, who are yet to be located despite claims they are at Harare Central Police Station, are set to appear in court on Friday.