Zimbabwe’s main opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change led by Nelson Chamisa has called for fresh elections after it disputed the results of the 23 August polls, citing several massive rigging by President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was re-elected for a second term.
Smarting from a defeat in controversial general elections last week, Zimbabwe’s main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party Nelson Chamisa has demanded fresh elections “to exit the crisis” created by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s controversial re-election in polls that were condemned by the opposition and international observers.
CCC spokesperson Gift Siziba told anews conference on Tuesday that his party wants fresh polls as the opposition alleged that the country’s electoral management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), failed to conduct a free and fair poll that resulted in Mnangagwa winning 52.6% of the vote while Chamisa was second with 44%. The remainder of the vote was split between other smaller opposition parties.
Our issue with this election is notinthe election resultonly, it is in the election process. The pre-election environment and the post-election environment.
“We must have new, fresh and properelections in this country whose process are scaffold bySADC, the Africa Union and all the interested parties in Zimbabwe in the democracy of our country,” said Siziba.
Last week’s elections were riddled with irregularities, according to monitors.
“Any president that must be inaugurated must be born out of a free and fair election. But in this [election] that is missing. This election is flawed in all aspects,” said Siziba.
In the run-up to the polls Chamisa’sparty complained about an upsurge in politically motivated violence, harassment and intimidation of its supporters. Before 23 August, an opposition party member was stoned to death during a campaign rally in Harare’s populous Glenview suburb. The Zimbabwean police later claimed that the opposition member was run over by a truck.
“Our issue with this election is notin the election result only, it is in the election process. The pre-election environment and the post-election environment,” said Siziba.
On voting day, the electoral body was accused of conducting an election that was marred by chaos and sabotage. A number of voters queued for long hours, with some casting their votes at night while others had to do so the following day following an extension of balloting by Mnangagwa.
International observers, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), noted irregularities in the manner in which the polls were conducted, although the bodies concluded that the plebiscite was generally peaceful.
“We have said these are flawed results and we do not accept them. ZEC failed in all aspects. What we are calling for is for the AU and SADC to mediate so that we return to a democracy. We want a rerun of the election,” said Siziba.
We have people who were barred fromcontesting – all that should be addressed.
Before election day the country witnessed a litigious and violent election campaign period, where citizens and political actors fought in vain to challenge the process.
If the opposition succeeds in ensuring Zimbabwe holds a fresh election, it would mean that all elected local and parliamentary seats become vacant.
The opposition won 73 parliamentaryseats in the national assembly as well as control of most urban municipalities, while Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party retained control of its parliamentary majority with 136 seats, and control of rural district councils.
The CCC said it was prepared to forgo the parliamentary victories so that Zimbabwe could hold a free and fair election:
“It’s not about the CCC but the entire Zimbabwe; the multitudes of oppressed Zimbabweans whose right and vote [were] stolen. We have people who were barred from contesting – all that should be addressed.”
The opposition, which claims that the country’s judiciary has been captured by Mnangagwa, says it will not approach the courts to overturn Zanu-PF’s victory, given their experience in 2018 when their application was rejected owing to a lack of evidence of vote rigging.
“This is not about the CCC; it is about the people of Zimbabwe whose will was stolen. ZEC failed the credibility, transparency and professionalism test, therefore it must be disbanded,” added Siziba.
Zimbabwe’s elections were also marred by the arrest of activists and local election observers, including the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Election Resource Centre.
According to the opposition, many Zimbabweans were forced to vote for Zanu-PF in rural areas by an organisation called Forever Associates Zimbabwe Trust which has links to the ruling party and the country’s spy network, the Central Intelligence Organisation.
Observer missions, including the SADC, the AU, the Commonwealth and the European Union, said the vote fell well short of the requirements of Zimbabwe’s constitution and the country’s electoral laws, while Mnangagwa said some observers went beyond their mandate and their reports should be set aside.
Head of the SADC’s Electoral Observation Mission and former Zambian deputy president, Nevers Mumba, said the ZEC failed to distribute ballot papers on time, resulting in delayed polls in some parts of the country, especially perceived opposition strongholds. The regional bloc also queried “exit poll survey desks” set up by Forever Associates Zimbabwe outside polling stations that resulted in several voters feeling intimidated.
On Tuesday, Zimbabwe protested to the SADC over its election report and wants the regional body’s panel of elders to probe the legitimacy of their claim. The panel is headed by former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete who at the last minute opted out of the trip to Harare and instead assigned Charles Tibone to undertake the assessment mission.
The joint AU and Comesa observer mission, led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, presented its findings, which were similar to the SADC’s.
Zimbabwean authorities have also challenged the preliminary findings of the EU on the polls.
The Commonwealth team on Tuesday bade farewell to Mnangagwa and supported their initial report which questioned the credibility of the elections although they said the polls were held in a peaceful environment.
“All in all we are very happy with the peaceful environment (during voting) and we stand by our preliminary report. We are going back now and we will make our final report which the secretary-general will come back to present,” said Amina Mohamed, the head of the Commonwealth mission, after meeting Mnangagwa.
The Commonwealth reported said the delimitation process had been conducted without a final census report, media accreditation had been a challenge, the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act had been used to ban opposition rallies and state media had been biased against the opposition.
Zimbabwe applied to rejoin the Commonwealth in 2018, having pulled out of the group in 2003 during the land reform programme spearheaded by late strongman Robert Mugabe, who was forced to resign at the height of a military coup in November 2017.
The holding of a free and fair election was one of the key requirements for Harare to rejoin the group made up of former colonies of Britain. However, Mohamed said Zimbabwe’s readmission would not only be determined by the way the poll was conducted – “many factors would be considered”.
After the announcement of the presidential winner on Saturday night, tension escalated in Harare, with police setting up roadblocks across the city centre in a bid to avert protests.
Even the SADC report says they mustgo to court and seek redress over the alleged rigging.
The opposition alleged that state agents prevented Chamisa from holding press conferences at any city hotels.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa said the opposition should go to court if they feel the elections were rigged and they must provide evidence.
“We know the opposition doesn’t wantto accept the reality that it is not supported by the masses of Zimbabwe. They will allege rigging without giving evidence to that effect. Let them go to court,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Even the SADC report says they must go to court and seek redress over the alleged rigging. It is their democratic right to do so.”
Douglas Mwonzora, leader of the MDCTformation which boycotted the polls, saying participation was an act of foolish bravery, called for dialogue between Mnangagwa, the opposition, churches, civil society and other pro-democracy groups to salvage the country’s socioeconomic and political fortunes following the disputed polls.
“We need genuine dialogue that wouldbenefit the people of Zimbabwe. That is the only way that this country can go forward. We are not saying we want a unity government, let’s get into dialogue without any conditions,” said Mwonzora. This comes after Mnangagwa extended an olive branch on Sunday to his election opponents so he could work with them to revive the country’s floundering economy following his controversial re-election.