Zimbabwe’s electoral commission chairperson has said the first presidential results could be announced on Thursday. The European Union observatory mission in Zimbabwe says while the 2018 presidential election was largely peaceful, use of state resources and delays by the electoral commission to relay presidential results could affect the credibility of the vote.
“The political climate has improved, (…) but unequal opportunities (between candidates), voter intimidation and lack of confidence in the electoral process have undermined the pre-electoral environment,” the EU denounced in a statement. Upon releasing their preliminary report, the EU chief observer said they do not understand why Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission (ZEC) had not announced presidential results, more than 36 hours after polls closed on Monday. ‘‘It is imperative that the results process is credible and transparent, with a full breakdown by polling station so that confidence in the outcome can be assured.” The EU mission also urged political parties to ‘await the final result and to remain peaceful throughout’.
Priscilla Chigumba, who was taking questions from journalists after announcing the final results of the National Assembly vote, explained that the commission has been overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of presidential candidates (23).
‘‘While all the results from the polling stations across the country are now available at the national tally center, agents of all the 23 presidential candidates must verify all the V11 forms, before national tallying and announcement can be made.” Chigumba explained that the results could be further delayed by the fact that some results that had been posted outside polling stations are being disputed by some agents. The main opposition party and ZESN, a domestic election monitor said on Tuesday that one in five polling stations, more than 2000 in all, had not physically posted tallies on their doors, as required by law. According to Chigumba: ‘‘It depends on whether those who disagree with something would like to use legal remedies but sometime tomorrow, we should be able to advise you what time we can start announcing Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF has attained two-thirds majority in the National Assembly of parliament, which allows the party to change the constitution at will, official results showed. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF swept most rural constituencies by large margins while the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change won in urban centers.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC) gathered their supporters to protest what they described as a ‘stolen election’. The aftermath of the election has been tense, characterized by claims of victory by both the opposition and the ruling party. MDC supporters gathered outside the party headquarters and began storming the electoral body’s tally center before running riot in the streets of Harare after the commission announced that the ruling party ZANU-PF had won an absolute majority in the National Assembly.
Observer missions from the European Union and the United States questioned the delay of the presidential elections results, saying this could negatively affect the credibility of the election.
The leader of the main opposition candidate, Nelson Chamisa, tweeted he had ‘won the popular’ vote while president Emmerson Mnangagwa called for calm as tensions rose.
Police fired teargas to disperse the rowdy crowds before the army intervened. Witnesses said automatic gunfire was heard on the streets while an army helicopter was also seen flying in the skies above Harare. Crowds burnt tires in the center of the capital, blocking some streets and engaging in running battles with police who fired water cannons to disperse the protestors. One person was shot dead by Zimbabwean soldiers. The Justice Minister later justified the action by saying the ‘people’s army’ is there to assist the police.
Source: Africannews.com, Daniel Mumbere