Nelson Chamisa says the opposition will contest the outcome as President Emmerson Mnangagwa denies any fraud.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader has claimed “blatant and gigantic voter fraud” in the country’s elections after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner and international observers reported a climate of intimidation towards voters.
Late Saturday, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced that Mnangagwa, 80, won a second term with 52.6 percent of the vote, while his main rival Nelson Chamisa, 45, of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party, won 44 percent received.
The announcement came two days earlier than expected after the vote had to be extended due to delays in ballot printing.
Chamisa said the opposition had not ratified the findings, which he said were “put together in a hurry and without proper verification”.
“They stole your voice and your vote but never your hope,” Chamisa wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, in his first public reaction to the election declaration. “It is a blatant and gigantic fraud.”
Mnangagwa, 80, denied the allegations in a speech from the presidential palace and urged his accusers to take action.
“I did not conduct these elections. I think those who have the feeling that the race didn’t go as planned know where to complain,” he said at a press conference on Sunday, expressing his great joy at his victory. He insisted the elections were conducted “transparently and fairly in broad daylight”.
Zimbabweans went to the polls on Wednesday and Thursday to elect a president and a new parliament. This election was seen as a test of support for Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party, whose 43-year rule has been accompanied by an economic crisis and rising authoritarianism.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern on Sunday at “the arrests of observers, reports of voter intimidation, threats of violence, harassment and coercion” in the country of 15 million.
Guterres issued a statement calling on all sides to “resolve all disputes peacefully through established legal and institutional channels” and to resolve disputes “in a fair, expeditious and transparent manner to ensure that the results truly reflect the will of the people.” .
Ahead of the vote, international human rights groups reported crackdowns on opposition to Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF, which has been in power since independence and the end of white minority rule in 1980.
“We knew we were faced with a flawed choice. We have a flawed electoral roll, a flawed delineation report. We had an incorrect ballot. It was a flawed electoral environment,” said Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who heads the CCC, at a news conference in the capital, Harare. He insisted that the CCC was the winner.
“We won this election. We are the leaders,” he said.
Grounds for a Dispute
Election observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth and the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) said Friday the polls had not met regional and international standards, citing a number of concerns including the ban on opposition rallies . Problems with electoral rolls, biased reporting in state media and voter intimidation.
That didn’t stop Mnangagwa from “thanking various election observation missions that observed our election processes with an open mind.”
However, he also responded to the criticism with the words: “We have shown that we are a mature democracy.”
“As a sovereign state, we continue to call on all our guests to respect our national institutions,” he said.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the elections were “transparent and fair in broad daylight”. [Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP Photo]But for policy analyst Rejoice Ngwenya, “The CCC has good reason to go to court and challenge the outcome.”
On the streets of Harare, some people were disillusioned with the exit.
“The results were not good, something is wrong somewhere,” Godwell Gonye told AFP.
Another man, who wished to remain anonymous, admitted he hadn’t looked closely at the results.
“We accept them as they are, it is the decision of the majority and we respect them,” he said.
ZEC Presiding Judge Chigumba said Mnangagwa received more than 2.3 million votes and Chamisa received more than 1.9 million votes.
By securing more than half of the votes cast, the President avoided a runoff. Voter turnout was 69 percent, the commission said.