Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has called for solidarity from regional partners against a vote he called a “gigantic fraud” that returned Emmerson Mnangagwa to power in Zimbabwe.
“Africa, do not leave us. Particularly our brothers and sisters in the region and the continent. We count on your solidarity as we seek to solve this political crisis,” Chamisa said at a press conference in Harare.
Mnangagwa secured a second term as president after he was declared winner of the 23 August general elections, with 52.6% to Chamisa’s 44%, amid criticism from regional observers who described the polls as falling short of standards.
The election came six years after long-term ruler Robert Mugabe was deposed in a military coup at a time of economic suffering and the resurgence of runaway inflation. It is the second time Mnangagwa and Chamisa have squared off in a presidential contest.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) election observer mission said in a report on Friday that the polls fell short of “the requirement of the constitution of Zimbabwe”.
The SADC observers said although the electoral environment was largely peaceful, the polls failed a credibility test. The EU observer mission said the election took place in a climate of “fear”.
Thousands of Zimbabweans waited on voting day for more than 12 hours in queues as the electoral commission failed to deliver ballot papers on time. Mnangagwa was forced to extend voting by another day.
Without disclosing his next course of action, Chamisa said his party had evidence that it won the presidential vote.
He accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of failing to run the polls and announcing the wrong result.
“We stand here in the aftermath of a highly contested election,” he said. “The election process was shamelessly flawed, and violated the laws of our country. There was therefore a criminality and illegality in the voting process. The electoral body ZEC failed to perform its constitutional mandate by not announcing the correct result.”
The 45-year-old pastor and lawyer alleged widespread voter suppression, especially in the countryside. “The election process has not passed the test of legality,” he said, adding that a fresh vote must be called.
A buoyant Mnangagwa has encouraged those aggrieved by the result to approach the courts. “Those who feel the race was not run properly should know where to go,” he said while addressing the media at the state house in Harare, on Sunday morning.
The 80-year-old’s Zanu-PF party also won the parliamentary elections with 136 seats, while the opposition CCC garnered 73 seats.
Zanu-PF however failed to secure a two-thirds majority to allow the party to institute constitutional amendments, which observers feared could be used to extend presidential term limits.
Mnangagwa has been criticised for failing to turn around the economy after five years in power.
Unemployment and poverty levels remain high in the country once regarded as the breadbasket of southern Africa. Despite claims of a bumper harvest, nearly 3.8 million people will go hungry this year.