Zimbabwe News

‘Africa, do not leave us’ – Nelson Chamisa plans to challenge poll results as Mnangagwa calls for Zim unity

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, basking in the glory of being re-elected for a second term in office, albeit controversially, has invited his opponents to work with him to revive the country’s foundering economy — a clear sign that he cannot go it alone following the disputed polls.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has hinted that he will not be able to deal with the country’s economic problems alone and has extended an olive branch to his political rivals to work with him amid legitimacy questions being raised over his re-election in last week’s polls.

In his first address after being declared the winner of the election by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Mnangagwa expressed willingness to work with his opponents.


After the disputed 2018 elections, the leader of the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party, Nelson Chamisa, unsuccessfully challenged the results and refused to join the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) forum established by Mnangagwa.

The ZEC said Mnangagwa won 52.6% of last week’s vote compared with Chamisa’s 44%.

“When I will be forming my government I will definitely be inviting those I contested against and see if we can work together. Yes, Polad helped us a lot and we will try to see what kind of form and shape this will take,” Mnangagwa told reporters at State House on Sunday.

Sources close to Mnangagwa said the 80-year-old leader decided to engage with the opposition after persuasion by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, who observed the 23 August polls.

Chissano met Mnangagwa on Saturday morning before the election results were announced and is said to have made some recommendations to Mnangagwa, to which the president reportedly agreed.

A top government source said: “Shortly after the president met with [ZEC chairperson] Priscilla Chigumba on Saturday, President Chissano was at State House, where he proposed the formation of a unity government, but its formation would be based on what President Mnangagwa and Vice-President [Constantino] Chiwenga agree on; these two consult each other and there is no way that the president can take such a bold move without the vice-president.

“Let’s see how this will play out, given the contestations around the results of the elections because this also depends on what the opposition will say.”

‘Stop this tomfoolery’

Chamisa, who has refused to accept the results of the polls, describing them as a “gigantic fraud”, seems to be going for broke to overturn Mnangagwa’s victory and shattering plans by Mnangagwa to work with the opposition.

“We want to ensure that we put finality to this tomfoolery games, enough of shenanigans. Of course, some will say, ‘How you will do this?’ Well, we have a million tools at our disposal and we will not repeat the story of 2018,” Chamisa said at a press conference on Sunday.

“Enough of these antics and tactics; we want to start a new chapter of happiness, of progress and prosperity. My fellow citizens, do not worry, what you are seeing is the end. It is the beginning of the end, they may try to stop the unstoppable.”

While Mnangagwa has extended an olive branch, Chamisa claims he won the election and should be allowed to lead the country, setting the stage for yet another legal battle after he unsuccessfully challenged the outcome of the 2018 elections in the Constitutional Court.

“Africa, do not leave us, particularly our brothers and sisters in the region and on the continent. We count on your solidarity as we seek to solve this political crisis. I know God has remembered us, God bless you, and God bless Zimbabwe,” said the 45-year-old pastor and politician.

“I see ZEC has announced Mr Mnangagwa as the winner, a clear brazen attempt to rob the will of the people of Zimbabwe. We have the V11s [polling station result forms]. I had asked my team to bring them so that you could see them. They show that we are winning and we won this election even if it was tough [and] under unfair conditions.”

Tension over ‘sham’ vote

The pro-democracy group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition described the polls as a “sham”.

“The illegitimate instalment [of Mnangagwa as president] creates local tension and often breeds terror as the illegitimate government uses force to govern. The precedent this illegitimacy and sham elections sets is a risk to the SADC [Southern African Development Community]  and the AU [African Union] as they move to deter unconstitutional means of installing governments on the continent. The SADC and the AU yardstick of purity of their protocols and conventions have also been tested by this sham,” said the group’s spokesperson, Obert Masaraure.

As fears of protests mount following the disputed elections, the Zimbabwean police said they were on high alert to deal with any demonstrations.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is fully aware of attempts by some political activists to mobilise groups of people to move in small numbers and come to Harare for purported briefing and popcorn demonstrations under the guise of citizen voter audit or verification. This has been given credence by some social media posts obtained by the police where some individuals and groups are openly inciting violence and issuing threats aimed at causing alarm and despondence among Zimbabweans.

“The police will not hesitate to effect arrests of such criminal elements,” said police Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) issued an advisory to its staff in Zimbabwe to exercise extreme caution after security barricades were set up on some roads in Harare.

Perpetuating economic crisis

Winning the election is one thing, running the country is another hurdle. Mnangagwa has to make radical economic decisions to tackle the challenges bedevilling the country, including hyperinflation and high unemployment.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of an economic catastrophe fuelled by corruption and maladministration. Mnangagwa’s electoral victory could make things worse unless drastic measures are implemented to salvage the country’s battered economy, according to Professor Gift Mugano of Ezekiel Guti University.

“Zimbabwe needs to start to change its policies, ditch the local currency and cut government expenditure. Mnangagwa must deal with the issue of corruption and he must deal with it decisively,” Mugano said.

The worst-case scenario, according to Mugano, is a continuation of the economic policies of the past five years of Mnangagwa’s administration.

“Zimbabwe needs to deal with the elephant in the room: the international debt, the trust deficit as well as corruption,” Mugano said.


Zimbabwe is ranked high in terms of corruption.

The country went to the polls on Wednesday, but voting had to be extended in the capital, Harare, and the country’s second-largest city, Bulawayo, both opposition strongholds, due to the shambolic nature of how the ZEC handled the election and its failure to deliver voting material to polling stations on time.

Zimbabwe’s economy has tanked after years of economic mismanagement by Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF party, which has been in power since 1980 when the country attained its independence from British colonial rule.

Social and economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya, who founded the Coalition for Market and Liberal Solutions, said, “Sanctions will stay and that is more trouble for an economy that relies on multilateral funding. More haemorrhage of skills to greener [pastures], [and] Commonwealth membership pushed back further, unfortunately.”

Continuing isolation

Political commentator Rashweat Mukundu, who works with International Media Support, agrees that Zimbabwe may be further isolated from the family of nations, particularly the Commonwealth, after the Harare administration failed to implement key democratic reforms as requested by the grouping before it could readmit Zimbabwe.

“This is the worst electoral process that Zimbabwe has witnessed since 1980 and there is no way that the Commonwealth will see beyond these malpractices.

“What the Commonwealth may do is use their observation report to agree on steps that the Zimbabwean government needs to take towards readmission. This won’t happen in the immediate future but would be a process likely determined by the reforms that the Zanu-PF government may take,” Mukundu said.


International election observers in Harare said the vote fell short of meeting the requirements of Zimbabwe’s Constitution and the country’s electoral laws.

“The question of legitimacy is a social contract and the people of Zimbabwe will always raise it. Mnangagwa has to find a way of tackling this,” said Wellington Gadzikwa, a lecturer in media studies at Africa University.

Observers ‘went beyond the call of duty’

But Zanu-PF and Mnangagwa have condemned those who have questioned the credibility of the election, including former Zambian deputy president Nevers Mumba, who led the SADC observer mission to Zimbabwe, saying it was outside their mandate.

“I am aware that some observer missions went beyond their call of duty and began interrogating legislation passed by our Parliament. It is my view that every single sovereign country passes their laws through their legislature and Zimbabwe is not an exception,” Mnangagwa said.

“I don’t think that it is in the mandate of election observers to interrogate institutions of a sovereign government, the judiciary, the legislature and government. I believe that their mandate is to observe the transparency, peacefulness and fairness in the conduct of elections, which I am happy to say no one questions that.”


Saviour Kasukuwere, a former Cabinet minister in Robert Mugabe’s regime who was barred from contesting the presidency in last week’s polls, said Mnangagwa should deal with the recommendations of regional and international bodies that monitored the polls, for the sake of the country’s economy and wellbeing of its citizens.

“He can’t afford to ignore the findings by SADC monitors and AU, EU, etc. A discussion has to begin,” the exiled Kasukuwere said.

Under Mnangagwa’s management, Zimbabwe’s currency has tanked against the United States dollar and other major currencies owing to the unbridled printing of money by the Treasury. Prices of goods have skyrocketed beyond the reach of many people and Zimbabweans are leaving the country in droves to do menial work in other countries.

Prosper Chitambara, an economist with the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said Zimbabwe had economic reform challenges during the first term of Mnangagwa’s reign and he has to address them in his second term.

“It is the hope of every Zimbabwean to see the perennial problems we have been having, such as loss of savings, loss of buying power, loss of livelihood and extreme cases of poverty, end,” Chitambara said.

Had Chamisa won the polls, he would have had his work cut out to revive Zimbabwe’s struggling economy,  Chitambara said.

“There is a lot of work to be done for whoever takes over. The country has a huge debt burden and needs to normalise relations with international financiers. Infrastructure is in shambles and the economy is, by and large, an informal one that failed to accommodate the university graduates.”

SADC must ‘correct’ its report

International relations expert Alexander Rusero said Zimbabwe had to reduce its toxicity with neighbours, particularly countries in SADC, adding that the bloc’s preliminary findings favoured Zanu-PF as they offered the party an opportunity to correct the irregularities in the next elections.

“Zanu-PF is the biggest winner in this crisis. It gives them an opportunity to correct those issues raised. Nothing will change much. Credibility does not depend on election outcome alone, but a number of issues that include peace and rule of law,” Rusero said.

The government on Sunday summoned SADC ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe so that authorities could read them the riot act and demand that the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) report presented by Mumba be withdrawn.

“On Friday, August 25 2023 many observer missions to the harmonised elections presented their preliminary findings. The government of Zimbabwe welcomes progressive preliminary comments and recommendations contained in some of these reports which were made in the spirit of strengthening our institutions and enhancing our democracy in future elections,” said Zimbabwe’s acting foreign affairs minister, Amon Murwira.


“The SADC’s mission is to foster peace and security as the prerequisite for regional integration and development to achieve a common future. However, we are disturbed by some aspects of the SEOM report which deviate from the spirit, intent and mandate of the SADC Observer Mission as outlined in the SADC Guidelines, which Zimbabwe has fully domesticated.

“We don’t believe it is in the remit of SEOM to question or interfere in member states’ Constitutions, laws, and court decisions passed by their sovereign democratic institutions. We believe SEOM, as our institution, had all avenues open to interrogate, verify and validate information before it was published, in line with SADC’s cherished values and principles of transparency, impartiality and non-partisanship.

“Unfortunately, in some areas cited in the report, this did not happen, resulting in views of a partisan nature being presented in the preliminary report as facts.

“Zimbabwe has full confidence that the errors cited in the SEOM report will be corrected with the view of ensuring the intended beneficial contribution to strengthening the electoral processes of member states, including Zimbabwe,” said the minister.

The opposition had complained that the run-up to the elections was characterised by violence and the intimidation of its supporters. One of the presidential candidates, Douglas Mwonzora of the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai formation, pulled out of the race, saying participating in the polls was tantamount to “foolish bravery”.

Activists have called on Zimbabweans to rally at the country’s embassies and consulates around the world on Monday, 28 August to protest against the election results.


‘Africa, do not leave us’ – Nelson Chamisa
‘Africa, do not leave us’ – Nelson Chamisa

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