Sunday, 20 October, 2019

Zimbabwe soldiers clash with opposition supporters as ruling party wins majority

Robert Mugabe's old party wins Zimbabwe election without him Zimbabwe soldiers clash with opposition supporters as ruling party wins majority
Patty Aguilar | 02 August, 2018, 00:32

On Wednesday, not long after Zimbabwe's electoral commission announced that the ruling party was on course for a landslide win in parliamentary elections, opposition protesters marched to the commission's headquarters in the capital, Harare.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said Wednesday that of 210 parliamentary seats, 153 had been counted with ZANU-PF winning 110 and the MDC Alliance 41.

58 seats still need to be declared, but the outcome of those won't affect the result of the election, as Robert Mugabe's former party maintains its grip on power.

The election, the first since the military ousted Mr. Mugabe in November and installed his former deputy and ally, has been seen as a major test of Zimbabwe's democracy and its ability to hold a free and fair election.

European Union observers had earlier declared they found an "un-level playing field and lack of trust" in the election process.

But with that excitement came the dread that violence and alleged fraud, which for so long dogged elections during Mugabe's 37-year rule, might yet rear their heads again.

The commission said it would release vote totals "sometime" Thursday, even though it said most of the results "are here with us".

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When Mugabe resigned last November, bowing to pressure from his former ally Mnangagwa and the military, observers both at home and overseas heralded Monday's general elections - which will decide presidential, parliamentary and local seats - as an opportunity for a clean slate.

The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Nelson Chamisa, said on Twitter he had won the "popular vote" in Monday's election, in which he challenged Mugabe's successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa from the ruling ZANU-PF party. "The strategy is meant to prepare Zim mentally to accept fake presidential results", he tweeted.

The EU observer mission has expressed "serious concerns" as to whether the vote was free and fair - crucial for lifting global sanctions on the once-prosperous country. The ruling party's margin of victory in legislative elections makes Mnangagwa, 75, the stand-out favorite in that race, which featured 22 candidates.

It is illegal to announce results before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

"We are fully aware of the inciters, the perpetrators of this violence, they will have themselves to blame when the law is applied", Charamba said in an unprecedented live television broadcast last night. Mr Mnangagwa was largely backed by traditional supporters of the Zanu-PF, including rural voters and the elderly who still believe the party has done a lot of good for the country of some 16 million people despite the excesses of Mr Mugabe's reign.

But Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who performed strongly on the campaign trail, sought to tap into the youth and urban vote.

The assessments are critical for Zimbabwe, because foreign governments, including the US, have made any financial aid conditional on holding democratic elections. They believe the election has been stolen, and are demanding the MDC be announced as victor.

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