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Zimbabwe election: Opposition rejects 'fake' poll results

BBC Africa/Maximilian Kasseh, Jr.
Opposition protestors in the streets of Zimbabwe
Opposition protestors in the streets of Zimbabwe

HARARE, ZIMBABWE-Zimbabwe's opposition leader has dismissed "unverified fake results" after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner of the first election since the ousting of Robert Mugabe.

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

Mr. Mnangagwa has urged Zimbabweans to unite behind his presidency.

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

A BBC correspondent in the city center 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."

Mr. Mnangagwa, of the governing Zanu-PF party, took office after President Mugabe, 94, was forced to resign in November. The vote was intended to set Zimbabwe on a new path following years of repressive rule, but tensions are now rising.

Mr. Mnangagwa narrowly avoided a run-off by taking 50.8% of the vote, official results show. Mr. Chamisa took 44.3%.

The electoral commission announced the presidential election results from the 10th and final province, Mashonaland West, late on Thursday after days of waiting.

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, then led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai, 49.

What does the opposition say?

"The Zec scandal of releasing unverified fake results is regrettable," Mr. Chamisa tweeted on Friday, referring to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

"Zec must release proper & 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.

"What they have been trying to do of late is to play around," Mr. Chamisa told a news conference hours before the final results were announced.

"That is rigging, that is manipulation, trying to bastardise the result, and that we will not allow."

Zec responded by saying there was "absolutely no skullduggery".

Bold claims face court test
 

Analysis by Pumza Fihlani

It was a close finish. The "crocodile" just scraped through to legitimize 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 Mnangagwa said?

Mr. Mnangagwa, 75, who took over from Mr. Mugabe in November, 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.

He has 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 revitalize 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.

What do other countries think?

Neighboring South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa - who is chairman of the Southern African Development Community - 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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