A ZANU-PF supporter holds a portrait of President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the party's campaign rally on August 19, 2023 in Shurugwi, Zimbabwe. Photo by Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa won a second term in office, election officials said on Sunday, but the opposition rejected the result of a vote that international observers said fell short of democratic standards.
Mnangagwa won 52.6% of the ballots against 44% for the main challenger, Nelson Chamisa, according to official results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Zimbabweans went to the ballot box to elect the president and legislature on Wednesday and Thursday in polling marred by delays that sparked opposition accusations of rigging and voter suppression.
The presidential results were welcomed by the celebratory cheers of a few ruling party supporters at the news conference venue.
But Promise Mkwananzi, a spokesperson for Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) said the party did not sign the final tally, which he described as “false”.
“We cannot accept the results,” he said, adding the party would soon announce its next move.
The vote was being watched across Southern Africa as a test of support for Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF, whose 43-year rule has been battered by a moribund economy and charges of authoritarianism.
Foreign poll monitors said on Friday that the elections had failed to conform to regional and international standards.
Observer missions from the European Union, Commonwealth and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) listed a number of concerns, including the banning of opposition rallies, issues with the voters’ roll, biased state media coverage and voter intimidation.
“The elections were fraught with irregularities and aggrieved the people of Zimbabwe,” political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said.
“The CCC has good grounds to go to court and challenge the outcome”.
ZEC chairperson Justice Chigumba said Mnangagwa had more than 2.3 million votes and Chamisa more than 1.9 million.
By securing more than half the votes cast, the president avoided a run-off. Voter turnout was 69%.
Nicknamed “The Crocodile” because of his ruthlessness, Mnangagwa first came to power after a coup that deposed Robert Mugabe in 2017.
A year later, he narrowly beat Chamisa a first time in a poll that the opposition leader condemned as fraudulent and which was followed by a deadly crackdown.
This week, voting was forced to stretch into an unprecedented second day because of delays in printing of ballot papers in some key districts including the opposition stronghold Harare.
Chamisa condemned the delays as “a clear case of voter suppression, a classic case of Stone-Age … rigging”.Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe spiralled into hardline rule and economic decline, with hyperinflation wiping out savings and deterring investment. — AFP