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Zimbabwe Re-Elects 80-Year-Old President Mnangagwa With 52.6% Vote



Zimbabwe Re-Elects 80-Year-Old President Mnangagwa With 52.6% Vote

Amid mounting tensions stemming from a currency crisis, soaring food prices, a deteriorating healthcare system,

Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, secured a second and final five-year term on Saturday, a result that came as a surprise due to its early announcement. The election was marked by its hastiness and took place in a country with a history of contentious and violent polls in its southern African region.

In response to Mnangagwa’s victory declaration, a spokesperson from an opposition party promptly voiced their rejection of the results, asserting that they were assembled hastily without proper verification.

Mnangagwa’s win ensured the continued dominance of the ZANU-PF party, which has maintained its grip on governmental leadership throughout Zimbabwe’s 43-year history since the nation adopted its new name following independence from white minority rule in 1980.

During this period, Zimbabwe has had only two leaders: the long-standing autocrat Robert Mugabe and now Mnangagwa.

Nicknamed “the crocodile” from his days as a guerrilla fighter, the 80-year-old Mnangagwa secured 52.6% of the votes in the midweek election, as reported by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in a late-night announcement in the capital, Harare. His main opposition, 45-year-old Nelson Chamisa, garnered 44% of the votes, according to the commission.

The results were disclosed around 11:30 p.m., approximately 48 hours after the polls had officially closed. These results are expected to undergo intense scrutiny due to concerns raised by international election observers. These observers had expressed apprehensions about the pre-election environment and cited instances of intimidation against supporters of Chamisa.

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Of specific concern was a ruling party affiliate organization known as Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (FAZ), which reportedly established tables at polling stations to record details of individuals entering voting booths. The head of the African Union mission, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, deemed FAZ’s activities as potential “criminal offences.”

Numerous local vote monitors were also arrested, facing allegations of subversion that critics of the government labelled as fabricated charges.

Moreover, the election process itself encountered difficulties. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, the voting period was extended to Thursday due to delays in printing ballot papers. The announcement of the presidential election results took an unexpected two days after the polls closed, contrary to expectations of receiving final figures on Monday or even Tuesday, given the election’s extension by a day.

“We reject any hastily assembled results lacking proper verification,” declared Promise Mkwananzi, spokesperson for Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change Party, while adding that they would guide citizens on their next steps as the situation developed.

With Mnangagwa’s triumph, ZANU-PF’s rule is extended, now spanning almost half a century. ZANU-PF also maintained its majority in the parliamentary election. Mnangagwa secured just over 2.3 million of the 4.4 million votes cast, while Chamisa received 1.9 million, as stated by the electoral commission.

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“This is a truly joyous occasion,” expressed Ziyambi Ziyambi, an election agent for Mnangagwa and a Cabinet minister. “Zimbabweans have demonstrated their confidence in our president and ZANU-PF.”

Having been a vice president under Mugabe, Mnangagwa succeeded his former ally following a coup in 2017. His contested victory against Chamisa in 2018 by a narrow margin led to unrest and fatalities on the streets.

Ahead of the announcement of the 2023 results on Saturday, a significant police presence, including armed officers with water cannons, safeguarded the national results center. This center had previously been a site of fatal violence after the preceding election five years ago when soldiers killed six people during protests against the delays in announcing presidential election results.

Voting in this election also extended into Thursday due to paper distribution delays in urban areas such as Harare. Mnangagwa’s decision to prolong the election by a day was prompted by these issues. Voters in urban opposition strongholds slept outside polling stations to cast their votes.

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Before the election results were announced, Chamisa had alleged that his party’s rallies were disrupted by police and his supporters frequently faced intimidation and threats of violence from ruling party supporters.

International human rights organizations reported a crackdown on opposition officials and supporters by ZANU-PF. Amid mounting tensions stemming from a currency crisis, soaring food prices, a deteriorating healthcare system, and a scarcity of formal jobs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused Mnangagwa’s administration of employing the police and the courts to stifle dissent.

Zimbabwe is known for one of the world’s most severe economic collapses, marked by hyperinflation from 2007 to 2009 that led to the abandonment of the national currency.

Given the nation’s history, many of its 15 million inhabitants are likely to view these results with skepticism. However, the opposition CCC party did not immediately disclose its next course of action.

In Harare, streets that would typically bustle with late-night vendors were devoid of activity as citizens absorbed the election outcome.

“It’s a done deal. Nothing changes,” commented Gerald Chosawa, a security guard at a grocery store. “I had some hope.”

He added, “Now it’s better to prepare to join the others who have left the country. That’s the best option.”

Buhari Olanrewaju Ahmed, a seasoned investigative journalist and climate/environmental reporter with a decade of experience, unravels complex issues and amplifies critical voices. His in-depth investigative work and insightful reporting have earned him recognition as a trusted source of information. Ahmed's unwavering commitment to journalism and exceptional storytelling prowess make him a standout figure in investigative journalism. His work drives meaningful conversations, influences policy decisions, and inspires collective efforts toward a sustainable future.

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