Chamisa declares he will be able to prove he is the true president

The MDC-Alliance has announced why it has rejected the results of the election.

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on Friday insisted that he won the country’s landmark election, calling the official results “fraudulent, illegal, illegitimate and characterised by serious credibility gaps”.

“We won this election and we are ready to form the next government,” Chamisa told a press conference, after President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling Zanu-PF was declared victor with 50.8 percent of the vote.

Zimbabwean riot police had earlier entered the Harare hotel on Friday to break up Chamisa’s press conference. They carried shields and teargas cannisters at the Bronte Hotel in the capital, AFP reporters witnessed.

However, the press conference was eventually allowed to go ahead.

Chamisa has alleged that the vote rigging this time around was “poorer” than under Mugabe.

“The numbers don’t add up. Mugabe was at least sophisticated.”

Chamisa said he was the genuine winner of the election and his party had detailed, “blow by blow” accounts and evidence of how the result had been manipulated. He would be presenting that in days ahead, though did not want to give too much away.

However, it was clear that the MDC has taken issue with the fact that it was never asked to sign off on the results, and their party agents would not have done so on the basis that their own tracking and tallying of the polls through using their own forms pointed to a vastly different outcome.

Chamisa referred to Emmerson Mnangagwa as the “outgoing president”, and said that according to the observations of the MDC-Alliance’s own observers the MDC had won as much as 56% of the vote.

The official result put the MDC at 44%.3.

Chamisa told reporters he would not attend Mnangagwa’s inauguration. “He is the one who should attend my inauguration.”

He said they would be challenging a number of election results, and had taken legal advice on doing so. He was not yet prepared to reveal all his evidence, but would do so in time.

“Victory has to be confirmed,” he said, to honour the will of the people. “We will not let them get away with murder, physically and metaphorically.”

He added that he was in the process of “getting in touch with President Cyril Ramaphosa” to step in and help them. Chamisa said he would fill the South African president in on the truth of what had actually happened, in the hope that he might intervene and rectify the matter.

You can watch a video of the press conference below, courtesy of SABC.

Zimbabwe’s opposition on Friday rejected what it said were the “fake” results of landmark elections in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared victor.

The former ally of Robert Mugabe won 50.8 percent of the vote in Monday’s historic first polls since the autocrat’s ousting last year, according to the Zimbabwe Election Commission — just enough to avoid a run-off against opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who scored 44.3 percent.

Chamisa lashed what he called “unverified fake results”.

“The level of opaqueness, truth deficiency, moral decay & values deficit is baffling,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mnangagwa, who was chosen as Mugabe’s successor in the ruling ZANU-PF party in November after the brief military intervention that deposed him, hailed the victory as a “new beginning” for Zimbabwe.

“Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams,” he tweeted.

Opposition allegations of foul play had already sparked a deadly crackdown on protesters in the capital Harare on Wednesday when troops opened fire, killing six.

Soldiers and police had cleared the city centre Thursday as the government vowed not to tolerate any more protests.

But by Friday the streets and markets were crowded as usual.

An army truck and two water cannon were parked outside MDC headquarters, and in the suburb of Mbare jubilant ZANU-PF supporters waved party banners as music blared from a car.

“This is a new Zimbabwe, we are happy,” said Tendai Mugadzi, a 32-year-old IT specialist.

He was untroubled that Mnangagwa had won by a wafer-thin margin.

“It just shows that this was a free and fair election,” he said.

‘Mugabe’s baggage’

President Cyril Ramaphosa of neighbouring South Africa called to congratulate Mnangagwa, vowing to work closely with him and calling on “all political leaders and the people of Zimbabwe to accept the outcome”.

Ramaphosa, in a statement, expressed concern over the protest deaths, but also emphasised that the opposition “must follow legal remedies provided for in the constitution and electoral law” if they disputed the results.

“Mnangagwa’s task was not just to win the election, but to convince the international community of a new Zimbabwe by winning it cleanly and fairly,” said Charles Laurie of analysts Verisk Maplecroft.

“The killing of six protestors and questions over his government’s conduct at the polls, means Mnangagwa drags virtually all of Mugabe’s baggage into his presidency,” he added.

He called the swift crackdown on protests “a stark demonstration of how Mnangagwa intends to rule”.

Since independence from Britain in 1980, Zimbabwe has known only two presidents — Mugabe, who ruled with an iron fist for 37 years, and his onetime right-hand man Mnangagwa.

The new president had promised a free and fair vote that would turn the page on years of brutal repression, end Zimbabwe’s international isolation and attract foreign investment to revive the shattered economy.

But Chamisa has repeatedly alleged that the vote was rigged, charging that the electoral commission — synonymous with fraud under Mugabe — had once more helped ZANU-PF to steal an election.

An MDC spokesman said early Friday that the party was planning to take the outcome to the courts, though a legal challenge appears to offer little hope of overturning the outcome.

The electoral commission has rejected allegations of bias and rigging, and international observers praised the largely peaceful conduct of the vote itself.

But European Union monitors said they found an “un-level playing field” that stacked various factors in favour of ZANU-PF, including heavy coverage by state media.

Huge challenges ahead

Turnout was high at over 80 percent in most of the country’s 10 provinces.

In the parliamentary election, also held on Monday, ZANU-PF won easily.

“It means our suffering will continue,” Emion Chitsate, a security guard at a shopping centre in the Waterfalls district of Harare, said of the result.

“It’s the same ZANU-PF which brought us to where we are.”

Mnangagwa, 75, was the clear election front-runner, but Chamisa — a lawyer and pastor 35 years his junior — sought to appeal to young and urban voters.

Mnangagwa was allegedly involved in voter intimidation during the 2008 elections when then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off after at least 200 of his supporters were killed in attacks.

The president faces massive challenges in his promise to restore an economy that Mugabe left in disastrous shape, presiding over the seizure of white-owned farms, a hyperinflationary surge and an investment exodus.

Previously solid health and education services are in ruins, while millions of Zimbabweans have fled abroad to seek work.

Just before announcing the results, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chief Priscilla Chigumba made a passionate plea for the country to remember the upbeat and peaceful atmosphere of polling day.

“It is my most humble wish that we as Zimbabweans should continue in this spirit that we had on election day and that we should move on in this spirit,” Chigumba said, before declaring Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner in the early hours of Friday.

But the election that ZEC ran has done little to build confidence that Zimbabwe has entered a new era of free and transparent voting after autocratic leader Robert Mugabe was ousted last year.

Instead Mnangagwa’s narrow win for the ruling ZANU-PF party has been engulfed by accusations of fraud and malpractice by ZEC, as well as anger over soldiers shooting at an opposition protest where six people were killed, two days after Monday’s election.

MDC opposition leader Nelson Chamisa — who has accused ZEC of playing for the same “team” as ZANU-PF — rejected the results and lashed out at what he called the “opaqueness, truth deficiency, moral decay and values deficit” of the election.

International observers have also questioned whether the election lived up to Mnangagwa’s promise to hold a “free and fair” vote to mark a new chapter for Zimbabwe and end the country’s isolation.

The European Union observers’ preliminary report accusing ZEC of a “persistent lack of inclusivity and transparency” and said its communications were poor.

ZEC was synonymous with fraud and bias under Mugabe, when elections were often marred by deadly violence.

Back in 2008, the commission attracted international ridicule for endorsing that year’s election as credible after then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the presidential run-off when more than 200 of his MDC supporters were killed.

Tainted past

Chigumba, a high court judge, was appointed to the high-profile job in January to give ZEC a fresh start after Mugabe’s fall last November.

As a respected judge, she is best known for reversing a two-week ban on protests and clearing activist Evan Mawarire in 2017 of attempting to overthrow Mugabe’s regime.

“The key tenets for a credible election are transparency and accountability — and ZEC is averse to both,” Tawanda Chimhini, head of Zimbabwe’s Election Resource Centre monitoring body, told AFP ahead of polling day.

“Zimbabwe could have seen a departure from the old way, and ZEC could have been much more transparent — that would have built public confidence. But the commission is making the same mistakes.”

At the helm of ZEC, Chigumba has defended the body rigorously, taking out full-page newspaper advertisements to deny reports that the electoral roll was riddled with fake names, duplicates and dead people.

She also faced claims of bias over the layout of the ballot papers, which — set out in two alphabetical columns — gave Mnangagwa a prominent spot at the top of the page.

“We are absolutely confident there was no rigging… we at the Zimbabwean Election Commission will not steal (the people’s) choice of leaders, we will not subvert their will,” she said after polling day.

But UK-based political analyst Alex Magaisa said that ZEC “has been found wanting” and “failed to handle its enormous obligation as an impartial referee”.

“There is a broad perception of bias which owes much to history, but is also cemented by current indiscretions,” he added.

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