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Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns


President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration for his second has raised concerns over the low international turnout. The event, which took place on Monday, saw a lack of attendance from invited African leaders and guests, indicating the possibility of Zimbabwe facing further isolation on the international stage.

Mnangagwa was sworn in before the country’s Chief Justice, Luke Malaba, with only three sitting presidents from the Southern African Development Community in attendance. This subdued inauguration saw the presence of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi, and Mozambican leader Filipe Nyusi. Many other leaders from SADC and the African Union who were invited did not show up.

Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns
Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns.

Despite sending out 69 invitations to sitting presidents and former heads of state, Mnangagwa’s low-key event at the National Sports Stadium in Harare was attended by only a few thousand of his local supporters. Former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano, former Zambian president Edgar Lungu, former deputies of Zimbabwe’s late strongman Robert Mugabe, Joice Mujuru and Phelekezela Mphoko, as well as former first lady Grace Mugabe and her family were among the attendees.

Mnangagwa’s victory in the disputed polls was declared by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which announced that the 80-year-old leader had secured 52.6% of the votes cast. His closest rival, Nelson Chamisa of the main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change, received 44% of the votes, while the remaining votes were split between smaller political parties.

The low turnout of international guests at Mnangagwa’s inauguration has raised concerns about Zimbabwe’s position in the global community. It suggests that the country could be heading towards isolation, with limited support and engagement from its neighboring nations and the wider African continent. The lack of attendance from high-ranking officials from SADC and the African Union is indicative of the strained relationships and skepticism surrounding Mnangagwa’s administration.

This lack of international support poses significant challenges for Zimbabwe as it strives to rebuild its economy and regain its position on the international stage. Mnangagwa’s ambitious plans for economic reform and attracting foreign investment heavily rely on diplomatic relations and partnerships with other nations. However, with diminished international attendance at his inauguration, the president’s efforts may face significant obstacles.

Moreover, the limited attendance also raises questions about the legitimacy and credibility of Mnangagwa’s leadership. International recognition and support play a crucial role in establishing the legitimacy of a government and its policies. The low turnout at his inauguration may undermine Mnangagwa’s standing both domestically and internationally, leading to further scrutiny and doubt regarding his presidency.

The Controversy Surrounding Zimbabwe’s Recent Elections

Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns
President Emmerson Mnangagwa during his inauguration ceremony.

In a highly contentious move, President Mnangagwa declared Zimbabwe’s recent elections as “free, fair, and credible,” dismissing accusations from the opposition that he had rigged his way back into office. Despite this claim, regional and international observers raised concerns about the conduct of the polls, casting doubt on the legitimacy of Mnangagwa’s victory.

During his inauguration address, Mnangagwa adamantly defended the integrity of the election process, stating that the country had set an “everlasting standard” for constitutional democracy. He hailed the outcome as a victory for the people of Zimbabwe against the perceived neo-colonial and hegemonic influences of detractors who believe in the notion of might being right.

However, the SADC election observer mission, headed by former Zambian deputy president Nevers Mumba, concluded that the elections failed to meet the requirements stipulated in Zimbabwe’s constitution, electoral laws, and regional standards. This finding has only heightened the disputed nature of the election and deepened the concerns surrounding its legitimacy.

The absence of several regional leaders during the polls further fueled the controversy. Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the opposition party, shown resilience in his response to the election outcome. On X (formerly Twitter), he expressed gratitude to Africa and the world for their support in denouncing fraud and stolen elections. Chamisa pledged to continue the fight for a legitimate government that truly represents the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

Urayayi Zembe, leader of the Democratic Party and a key supporter of Chamisa, warned that Mnangagwa’s refusal to address the concerns raised by observers could lead to further isolation from the international community. The repercussions of this potential isolation could have far-reaching consequences for Zimbabwe’s economy and political stability.

While Mnangagwa’s assertion of a praiseworthy electoral process may appease his supporters, it does little to assuage the concerns raised by international and regional observers. The credibility of the election has been called into question, tarnishing Zimbabwe’s democratic credentials and hindering efforts to foster a fair and inclusive political environment.

“According to Zembe, the current engagement and re-engagement policy of Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF government has faced significant opposition due to its perceived undemocratic nature both domestically and internationally. As a result, it has ignited widespread criticism and resistance.”

Lack of International Support for Mnangagwa’s Inauguration

Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns
Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns

In the aftermath of the highly disputed presidential elections in Zimbabwe, signs of isolation for newly re-elected President Mnangagwa have been evident. The absence of prominent African leaders during his inauguration has sparked widespread speculation about the legitimacy of his re-election.

One of the most notable signs of isolation is the lack of attendance by prominent African leaders at Mnangagwa’s inauguration. Even countries that have maintained cordial relations with Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party, such as Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and Rwanda, sent junior diplomats instead of their heads of state. This absence of high-level representation speaks volumes about the diminishing international support for Mnangagwa’s government.

The opposition party, the CCC, has seized upon this lack of attendance as evidence of Mnangagwa’s increasing isolation. CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi stated that the meager turnout at the inauguration signifies the waning confidence in Mnangagwa’s re-election. The CCC has vowed to continue their diplomatic offensive in order to challenge the legitimacy of his presidency.

However, Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, dismisses the absence of African leaders as a customary protocol that occurs around the world. Charamba insists that this should not be interpreted as a lack of confidence in the election outcome or a reflection of Mnangagwa’s isolation. Nonetheless, many political analysts argue that there is a deeper significance to this lack of attendance.

International relations expert Alexander Rusero asserts that the inauguration serves as a testimony to the global community’s skepticism surrounding Zimbabwe’s recent elections. Rusero highlights the need for Zanu-PF to engage with the region and address these concerns. The absence of key African leaders, particularly from countries like Angola, suggests that questions and doubts persist regarding the legitimacy of Mnangagwa’s presidency.

The issue of legitimacy is a crucial one, as it greatly influences how the world perceives Mnangagwa. The goodwill that the president once enjoyed seems to be waning, both domestically and internationally. Without a strong and indisputable mandate, Mnangagwa’s ability to effectively govern and implement much-needed reforms may be hampered.

Ramaphosa Criticised for Endorsing Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party

Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns
Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has come under fire for attending the inauguration of Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa. The leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen, criticized Ramaphosa for showing support for Zimbabwe’s ruling party, Zanu-PF. Steenhuisen argued that this endorsement demonstrated that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) was disconnected from the suffering of Zimbabweans under Zanu-PF’s autocratic regime.

Steenhuisen highlighted the dire consequences of Zanu-PF’s governance, including hyperinflation, economic collapse, widespread suffering, and mass migration. He claimed that Ramaphosa’s presence at Mnangagwa’s inauguration endorsed a government that had caused immense instability in the southern African region. Steenhuisen’s remarks underscored the frustration felt by many who expected Ramaphosa to take a stronger stance against Zanu-PF’s oppressive rule.

In response to these criticisms, ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula stated that Zimbabweans were capable of addressing their own problems. While he expressed the ANC’s support for Zimbabwe’s liberation movement, Mbalula emphasized the need to respect the internal processes of other nations. According to Mbalula, the outcome of Zimbabwe’s recent election affirmed Zanu-PF’s position, and as allies, the ANC was present to acknowledge that.

When questioned about the ANC’s endorsement of the election results, despite international condemnation, Mbalula reiterated that Zimbabwean problems should be resolved by Zimbabweans themselves. He emphasized the importance of observing Zimbabwean laws and allowing the people of Zimbabwe to engage in dialogue about the election outcome.

The criticisms leveled at Ramaphosa for attending Mnangagwa’s inauguration highlight the sensitive and complicated nature of South Africa’s relationship with its northern neighbor. Zimbabwe has faced many challenges in recent years, including economic decline, political unrest, and human rights abuses. While some argue that South Africa should take a stronger stance against the Zanu-PF-led government, others believe in respecting Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and allowing the country to resolve its own issues.

Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns
Zimbabwe inauguration: Low international turnout raises concerns.

“We strongly believe in upholding the principle of sovereignty and respecting the democratic process. We understand the importance of elections and do not support any efforts to overthrow governments. The recent elections in Zimbabwe have clearly shown that the people have spoken, as evidenced by the thousands who have gathered here to celebrate the president’s victory.

These individuals have come willingly, without any coercion or manipulation from our party, Zanu-PF. There was a fair contest with opposition parties, although they were unable to secure enough votes to challenge the outcome. If there are any concerns or disputes regarding the election results, we respect Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and trust that their institutions will handle them appropriately.

It is worth noting that President Ramaphosa has faced criticism for his endorsement of President Mnangagwa’s victory prior to official confirmation. We acknowledge these concerns raised by Zimbabwean activists and opposition members.

The lead-up to the election was marred by incidents of violence and intimidation against opposition members in various parts of the country. This resulted in some political leaders opting out of participation, seeing it as an act of courage without sound judgment.

As analysts speculate on President Mnangagwa’s next steps, there is a possibility that he may seek to consolidate his power rather than pursuing a previously suggested unity government.

Prominent lawyer Chris Mhike suggests that there remains a chance for a re-run of the election under certain circumstances.”

If the opposition’s ongoing diplomatic efforts are successful, there may be mass resignations of office holders in both local and national government, as well as legislators in Zimbabwe. This could potentially lead to the dissolution of parliament by the president and open the door for fresh elections.

The current group of politicians in power in Zimbabwe are unlikely to be concerned with the opinions of the international community. They have shown disregard for fair electoral practices, as seen in the recent controversial election where they claimed victory through blatant malpractices. Furthermore, they responded aggressively to any criticism, with SADC bearing the brunt of their government-sponsored hostility,” commented Mhike.

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