In a shocking turn of events, Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, has denounced the recent presidential election as a “gigantic fraud.”
His claims come after the incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was declared the winner amidst allegations of voter intimidation and electoral misconduct. As international observers weigh in on the matter, it is becoming increasingly clear that the legitimacy of the election results is in question.
Late on Saturday, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced that Emmerson Mnangagwa had won a second term with 52.6 percent of the votes, while Chamisa received 44 percent of the ballots. However, Chamisa immediately disputed the results, stating that they had not been properly ratified and that there had been a lack of verification in the process.
Taking to social media, Chamisa expressed his frustration, claiming that the election had been marred by fraud. “They stole your voice and vote but never your hope,” he wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. His words highlight the deep-seated unhappiness and mistrust of the electoral process among the country’s opposition supporters.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa has vehemently denied these allegations, expressing his happiness at the outcome of the election. Speaking from the presidential palace, Mnangagwa dismissed the claims of fraud and challenged his accusers to take appropriate legal action. “I did not conduct these elections. I think those who feel the race was not run properly know where to go to complain,” he stated at a Sunday news conference. Mnangagwa maintained that the elections were conducted transparently and fairly.
These developments have cast a shadow of doubt over the electoral process in Zimbabwe. The country has long struggled with allegations of electoral misconduct, and this latest controversy only serves to deepen the concerns surrounding the legitimacy of its democratic processes. International observers have already highlighted an environment of intimidation against voters, which further calls into question the credibility of the election results.
Zimbabweans went to the polls last week to choose their president and new parliament. The election was seen as an important test of support for Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party, which has held power for 43 years.
However, the country has been plagued by an economic crisis and a tightening grip on authoritarianism during this period. As such, the election was viewed as an opportunity for change and a possible turning point for the nation.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern on Sunday regarding the arrest of observers, reports of voter intimidation, threats of violence, harassment, and coercion in the country with a population of 15 million.
In his statement, Guterres called upon all parties involved to peacefully resolve any disputes through established legal and institutional channels. He emphasised the importance of resolving these issues in a fair, expeditious, and transparent manner to ensure that the election results truly reflect the will of the people.
Leading up to the election, various international human rights organisations reported a crackdown on opposition to President Mnangagwa and his party ZANU-PF. The ruling party has held power since independence and the end of white minority rule in 1980.
Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who leads the CCC, acknowledged that they were aware that this was not a perfect election. Issues such as flaws in the voters roll, delimitation report, and ballot were evident. However, despite these challenges, he firmly maintained that their coalition emerged as victors.
“We have emerged as winners in this election. We are confident that we are the rightful leaders,” he asserted at a press conference held in Harare’s capital city.