Ugly election dispute mars Mnangagwa slim victory

Emmerson-Mnangagwa4.jpg

Controversial winner ... President Emmerson Mnangagwa

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa was this morning controversially declared the winner of Zimbabwe’s borderline presidential election with a slim but hotly-disputed 2 460 463 (50,8%) majority, defeating his closet rival MDC Alliance presidential leader Nelson Chamisa who polled 2 147 436 (44,3%).

Nkululeko Sibanda/Kuda Chideme/Nyasha Chingono

Controversial winner … President Emmerson Mnangagwa

The other votes in the blood-stained election went to the remaining 21 other opposition candidates, some suspected to have been fronted by the state, to split the vote in favour of Mnangagwa. Six people were killed in Harare by the military on Wednesday as the dispute over the result boiled over.

However, Chamisa dismissed the result saying it was “fiction”. MDC Alliance insiders said the true result is that Chamisa polled 2,6 million votes against Mnangagwa’s two million votes, according to tallies compiled from V11 forms.

Chamisa and his team say they have different figures, showing their victory. Police yesterday reportedly raided their offices looking for information and data on that. They also arrested some people.

Just before Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba announced the last provincial tallies, Chamisa’s election agent Morgan Komichi stormed the stage and announced that the MDC Alliance had rejected the results, reducing the process into a circus and farce.

“We as the MDC Alliance totally reject the results that have been announced so far. We reject the results because the results have not been verified by the chief election agent of the candidate. The process is very clear when results are collated,” he said.

“I represent my candidate Nelson Chamisa and I’m the chief election agent of the party. The election results that have been announced have not been verified. So the results are fake; they have just been printed and they have not been verified by the polling agents.

“Polling agents verify the results. Presidential results are constituency-based results and the constituency results have not been announced and verified. We held a meeting today with the CEO and agreed on the process and the process was not proper.”

Despite Komichi’s dramatic announcement, Chigumba went on to declare Mnangagwa the winner of the presidential election.

“In terms of Section 110 (3)(F) (2) I do hereby declare that the votes received by Mnangagwa Emmerson Dambudzo of Zanu PF are more than half of the total votes cast. Therefore Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is duly elected, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with the effect of 3 August 2018,” Chigumba said.

Mnangagwa’s scraping through was different from Zanu PF’s two-thirds majority landslide. Results of the parliamentary vote have all been announced with Zanu PF receiving 146 seats, while the MDC Alliance only managed to secure 62 seats.

This confirmed a well-known observation in political circles that Mnangagwa lacks charisma and personal appeal, and that he is highly unpopular even within his own party.

MDC Alliance supporters took to the streets on Wednesday protesting against the alleged fraud. However, assault rifle-wielding soldiers indiscriminately fired live rounds at protestors and passers-by in the capital, leaving at least six civilians dead and many others injured and nursing gunshot wounds. The incident caused local and international outrage, hence widely condemned.

Chamisa insists that despite the MDC Alliance losing the parliamentary vote, he had won the popular vote, claiming fraud on the part of the Zec and Zanu PF to ensure Mnangagwa scraped through.

The MDC Alliance leader says in some constituencies where Zanu PF parliamentary candidates won, the majority of people did not necessarily vote for Mnangagwa, citing the examples of provinces such as Manicaland as Mashonaland West.

Although Zanu PF grabbed 19 seats in Manicaland compared to the MDC Alliance’s seven seats, the presidential election was tightly-contested with Chamisa edging Mnangagwa by a slim margin after getting 296 429 votes compared to his rival’s 292 938.

Chamisa also got a huge majority of votes in some areas such as Harare South where the MDC Alliance had double candidates, leading to the Zanu PF candidate winning by default. The situation was the same in several other constituencies.

Chamisa says according to the opposition’s own tabulation of the votes, he had garnered 2,6 million votes ahead of Mnangagwa who had secured just slightly over 2 million votes.

“We know that we defeated Mnangagwa. In some constituencies that Zanu PF parliamentary candidates were winning and even in constituencies where our candidates for MP were not performing well, I won. I have the majority vote,” Chamisa told reporters after visiting shooting victims at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare yesterday.

“We have won this election; Mnangagwa and Zanu PF know that. The parliamentary vote is not the presidential vote. We have the proof; we had officials in all the constituencies and they all collected the results which are all part of the tally. We will show you once Zec announces its fictitious results. ”

In an interview, the MDC’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said Zimbabweans had accepted “one-too-many stolen elections” and are not about to accept another one again.

“There are many Zimbabweans who have had to brave the harsh realities that come with a stolen election. All they have said is this time around, there will be no such,” Sibanda said.

“They have made it clear that they are prepared to defend their vote using whatever means are at their disposal and we wait to see whether the regime, which thinks it is bigger than the people, will listen to the people’s will.”

Sibanda said there was no reason other than fraud why Zec results should differ with those submitted by MDC Alliance polling agents as they were from the same source.

“Our results and what Zec has come from the same polling stations. All we want is that Zec should announce the proper results from the polling stations and not some results that have been cooked elsewhere,” Sibanda said.

“Those results should be verifiable using the agreed methods. If Zec’s result is unverifiable, then it means we still have a long way to go and we are prepared to go all the way to fight to defend the people’s will.”

According to the Electoral Act, the presidential election ballots must be counted first. This must be done in the presence of candidates or their election agents and accredited observers following which the result is recorded on the polling station return form known as a V11.

The polling station V11 forms must be signed by the polling station presiding officer in the presence of agents who are also given the opportunity to sign off on the forms before they can be forwarded to the Chief Elections Officer at Zec National Command Centre.

Certified polling station V11 forms for each election — ward, constituency and presidential — must then be displayed outside the polling station with copies being availed to each candidate or polling agent present.

Earlier in the week, Chigumba had claimed that the delay in announcing the results was because the electoral body was still yet to verify the V11 form returns in the presence of all the presidential candidates’ representatives.

The Electoral Act, however, does not require candidates’ agents to be present at this verification process but for them to be merely notified of the time and place and given an opportunity to be present.

According to results released by Zec, Chamisa, as expected, did well in urban areas, particularly in the capital, Harare, where he got 548,889 votes compare to Mnangagwa’s 204,710. In Bulawayo, Chamisa had more than double Mnangagwa’s 60 168 votes after grabbing 144,107.

Chamisa also won in Matabeleland North where he amassed 137,611 votes against Mnangagwa’s 111,452.

Manicaland was tightly contested but Chamisa managed to edge Mnangagwa by a slim margin, getting 296 429 votes compared to Mnangagwa’s 292 938.

Mnangagwa prevailed in traditional Zanu PF strongholds of Masvingo, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central.

In Mashonaland East, Chamisa got 189 024 which was dwarfed by Mnangagwa’s 334,617. Mnangagwa dominated Masvingo with 319,073 votes, while Chamisa received 171, 196.

In Mashonaland Central, Chamisa got a paltry 97,097 compared to Mnangagwa’s 366,785. There are questions over how the province ended up with more than 400,000 people voting when only 105,000 had voted two hours before polling stations closed.

In Mashonaland West, Mnangagwa received 312 958 votes whereas Chamisa had 217,732 votes. Mnangagwa won the majority of votes in Matabeleland South with 107 008, while Chamisa received 90,292 votes.

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