Zimbabwe election: Opposition rejects ‘fake’ poll results

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Anti-riot police officers block a road leading to the Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe, 2 August 2018Image copyright
EPA

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Security is tight outside the offices of the opposition MDC Alliance in Harare

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader has dismissed the victory of President Emmerson Mnangagwa as being based on “unverified fake results”.

Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance vowed to launch a legal challenge, saying the vote was rigged.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), which announced the results, said there was “no skulduggery” involved in the vote tally.

This was the first election since long-term leader Robert Mugabe was ousted.

In a tweet, Mr Mnangagwa has urged Zimbabweans to unite to create “a new beginning” after a vote that was intended to set Zimbabwe on a new path following years of repressive rule.

The veteran Zanu-PF politician took office after Mr Mugabe, 94, was forced to resign in November amid a military takeover.

What is the situation in Harare?

Police are patrolling the streets of the capital, Harare, after protests on Wednesday left six people dead.

A BBC correspondent in the city centre says a police vehicle with a loudspeaker is broadcasting the message: “Zimbabwe is open for business. We are here to protect you. Feel free to walk and open your business. All is well, fear not.”

The city, which is seen as an opposition stronghold, is quieter than normal as people are digesting the outcome, correspondents say.

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Getty Images

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The president’s supporters welcomed the news of his victory

But there were celebrations in one part of Harare. The president’s supporters in the suburb of Mbare took to the streets to welcome the news.

“This is a new Zimbabwe, we are happy,” AFP news agency quotes 32-year-old IT specialist Tendai Mugadzi as saying.

How close was the result?

Mr Mnangagwa avoided a run-off by just 36,464 votes out of more than 4.8 million cast.

Overall, official results show he took 50.8% of the vote to Mr Chamisa’s 44.3%. The 21 other candidates took up the remainder.

At the last election, Mr Mugabe won 61% of the vote, with the opposition’s main candidate, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, winning 34%.

The electoral commission finished announcing the presidential election results in the early hours of Friday morning, after days of waiting.

Zec acknowledged that the wait had caused anxiety and international observers had earlier urged the commission to speed up the announcement. Under the constitution, the commission had until Saturday to declare the result.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Pumza Fihlani speaks to rural Zimbabweans

The results of the parliamentary election were announced earlier in the week. They gave Zanu-PF 144 seats; the MDC Alliance, which is made up of seven parties, 64 seats, and one seat to the National Patriotic Front, formed by Mugabe loyalists.

Although Zanu-PF won by a landslide, its majority has shrunk since the 2013 election when it obtained 160 seats and the MDC 49.

What does the opposition say?

“The Zec scandal of releasing unverified fake results is regrettable,” Mr Chamisa tweeted on Friday.

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AFP

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Nelson Chamisa, 40, says the delay in announcing the results suggests wrongdoing

“Zec must release proper and verified results endorsed by parties. The level of opaqueness, truth deficiency, moral decay & values deficit is baffling.”

The opposition also questioned the high turnout of more than 80% in most of the country’s 10 provinces.

Zec has earlier said there was no cheating.

Bold claims face court test

Analysis by Pumza Fihlani, BBC News, Harare

It was a close finish. The “crocodile” just scraped through to legitimise his presidency, eight months after Robert Mugabe was ousted as president. But Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu-PF party are not celebrating yet. Zimbabwe’s constitution allows for a legal challenge to the results but Nelson Chamisa now has the huge task of proving his bold claims.

There is no room for inflammatory talk in court – just hard evidence. Mr Chamisa has been criticised here for prematurely declaring victory and fuelling tensions particularly in the capital. If his challenge is to succeed, it won’t be through the scenes we saw on Wednesday which led to six people being killed.

Aside from the disputed results, both leaders have injected new life into their parties. They have each ignited hope for what Zimbabwe could become.

But how the next few days play out will be the true test of how ready the political leaders are to embrace true democracy – where there are winners and losers but still a country to run.

What has the president said?

President Mnangagwa, thought to be 75 years old, took to Twitter to say he was “humbled” to have won the election.

“Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams. This is a new beginning,” he added.

Earlier, he had called for calm and said the government was in talks with Mr Chamisa to defuse the crisis.

Mr Mnangagwa has proposed an independent investigation to bring to justice those who were behind Wednesday’s violence.

“This land is home to all of us and we will sink or swim together,” he said in a series of tweets.

Mr Mnangagwa has vowed to revitalise Zimbabwe’s tattered economy after decades of international isolation under Mr Mugabe.

The country has suffered from rampant inflation and high levels of poverty. The unemployment rate last year was as high as 90%, according to Zimbabwe’s biggest trade union.

More on post-Mugabe Zimbabwe:

What do other countries think?

Neighbouring South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has congratulated the president on his victory, and has appealed to political leaders and the Zimbabwean people to accept the outcome of the election.

European Union and Commonwealth election observers had earlier criticised the delay.

EU observers also said they had found an “un-level playing field and lack of trust” in the election process.

It was the first time in 16 years that the government had allowed EU, Commonwealth and US election monitors into the country.

How have tensions risen?

The day after the election, the MDC Alliance said Mr Chamisa had won the presidential vote, pre-empting an official announcement and prompting its supporters to celebrate in some areas of Harare.

The following day, when Zec announced that Zanu-PF had won the parliamentary vote by a landslide, tensions rose further.

Opposition supporters were also angered by the delay in announcing the presidential results.

There were chaotic scenes in Harare on Wednesday as troops and riot police clashed with MDC Alliance protesters. Six demonstrators were killed and many others injured.



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