Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has won a second and final term in office, in an outcome that has been vigorously rejected by the opposition and questioned by observers.
Despite the country’s ongoing economic crisis, Mnangagwa was widely anticipated to secure re-election, owing to what analysts describe as an election heavily skewed in favour of the ZANU-PF party, which has been in power since the end of white minority rule in 1980.
According to official results declared by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on Saturday, Mnangagwa garnered 52.6 percent of the vote, while his main challenger, Nelson Chamisa, secured 44 percent. ZEC chairwoman, Justice Chigumba, formally announced, “Mnangagwa Emmerson Dambudzo of the ZANU-PF party is declared duly elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.”
However, the elections were marred by delays, which fueled accusations of rigging and voter suppression from the opposition. In response to the official results, Promise Mkwananzi, a spokesperson for Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change, said that his party had not signed the final tally, which he described as “false.” In a statement to the AFP news agency, Mkwananzi further added, “We cannot accept the results,” alluding to an imminent announcement of their next course of action.
The outcome of Zimbabwe’s elections has garnered significant attention across southern Africa, serving as a litmus test for support of Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party. The ruling party has faced tremendous backlash due to its mismanagement of the economy during its 43-year rule and allegations of authoritarianism.
According to foreign poll monitors, the recent elections in Zimbabwe did not meet regional and international standards. The head of the European Union’s observer mission described the voting process as taking place in a “climate of fear.” The Southern African regional bloc also noted several issues such as voting delays, problems with the voter roll, restrictions on opposition rallies, and biassed state media coverage.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya stated that the elections were filled with irregularities and caused dissatisfaction among the people of Zimbabwe. Ngwenya believes that there are strong grounds for legal challenges to be brought against the outcome.
ZANU-PF, however, denies any unfair advantage or attempts to manipulate election results through rigging. According to ZEC chairperson Chigumba, 80-year-old Mnangagwa received over 2.3 million votes compared to 1.9 million votes for 45-year-old Chamisa.
Since Mnangagwa garnered more than half of the votes cast, a runoff was avoided. Voter turnout was reported at 69 percent.
Nicole Beardsworth, a politics lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand, speculated that the delayed announcement on Saturday may have been motivated by criticism from SADC and other election observers. She expressed concerns about the speed at which ZEC is releasing presidential results and suggested there are many unanswered questions regarding this matter.
ZANU-PF wins parliamentary vote
ZANU-PF, the ruling party of Zimbabwe, has emerged victorious in the parliamentary vote held recently. Led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, also known as “The Crocodile,” ZANU-PF managed to secure 136 out of the 210 seats in the election. This victory comes as a blow to the opposition party, the CCC, which managed to secure only 73 seats.
The road to this victory was marked by controversy and allegations of voter suppression. The voting process had to be extended to a second day due to delays in printing ballot papers in key districts, including the capital city of Harare. This delay was condemned by the opposition leader, Chamisa, who referred to it as a “clear case of voter suppression” and accused the ruling party of rigging the election. However, the constitutional court upheld the election result, affirming Mnangagwa as the winner.
Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, gained independence from British rule in 1980 after a long and bloody guerrilla war. The country was renamed Zimbabwe under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, a former independence fighter who became the first prime minister and later the president of the newly formed nation. However, Mugabe’s tenure was marked by economic crisis and political turmoil. Hyperinflation ran rampant, wiping out the savings of many Zimbabweans and deterring foreign investment.
Mnangagwa, a key member of Mugabe’s government and known for his hardline approach, manoeuvred his way to power after mass protests forced Mugabe to step down. In the 2018 elections, Mnangagwa narrowly defeated Chamisa, the opposition leader, in a poll that was criticised as fraudulent by the opposition. Despite the controversy, the constitutional court upheld the result, solidifying Mnangagwa’s position as the leader of Zimbabwe.
The opposition party had hoped to capitalise on the discontent among Zimbabweans regarding corruption, high inflation, unemployment, and poverty. However, ZANU-PF’s victory in both the parliamentary and presidential elections indicates that the ruling party still holds a significant majority and will continue to shape the country’s policies moving forward.