Zimbabwe is on edge as it awaits the results of its historic presidential election. Troops have opened fire on protesters, claiming the polls have been rigged, denting hopes of a new era following the ousting of Robert Mugabe. Follow the live update here
Britain wants Zimbabwe military off the streets
Britain says its ambassador to Zimbabwe has met with government ministers and “made clear that the military should be removed from the streets of Harare”‘
An embassy statement also condemns the “excessive use of force by the security forces towards demonstrators” in the capital on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe’s government has said three people were killed and the British statement says “many” were injured.
The statement welcomes President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s comments announcing an independent investigation into the violence in Harare.
It says all political leaders have a responsibility to avoid raising tensions or inciting violence.
Zanu PF confident of elections victory
Zanu PF has expressed optimism that it will continue ruling Zimbabwe, particularly as the party has already won a majority in Parliament.
Party spokesperson Paul Mangwana said at a media briefing in Harare that in the “unlikely” event that Zanu PF does not win the presidential vote, then it calls on their supporters to peacefully accept MCD Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa as the winner.
“[W]hen you control two-thirds majority in Parliament, there is no way you can fail to win the presidential election”, said Mangwana.
“I know we have won the presidential election, but we will wait for the proper announcement of the results,” he said.
“Nevertheless, in the unlikely event that we do not win the presidential election, we will still request our supporters to accept the verdict of the people and allow Chamisa to take over.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa says his government is in touch with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa in an attempt to ease tensions after deadly post-election violence, a day after he accused the opposition of inciting it.
In a series of posts on Twitter, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said “we have been in communication” with challenger Nelson Chamisa and that “we must maintain this dialogue in order to protect the peace we hold dear”.
The conciliatory remarks came a day after soldiers shot live rounds and beat demonstrators, many of whom threw rocks and set fires to protest alleged election fraud. The government has said three people were killed.
Image: An election campaign poster of MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa. (Jekesai Njikizana, AFP)
The heads of international observer missions to Zimbabwe’s elections issued a joint statement about the post election violence in Harare.
“We denounce the excessive use of force to quell protests and urge the police and army to exercise restraint.
“We encourage political leaders to show magnanimity in victory and graciousness in defeat.”
MDC-T lambastes army’s heavy handedness
“We condemn the heavy handedness of the army given the unarmed nature of our citizens. The right to demonstrate is enshrined is section 59 of the constitution, we implore the police to deal with unruly elements by arresting them.
“We are equally shocked by the untimely loss of human life in a matter that could have simply been resolved by the legal remedy platforms available.”
The MDC-T also deplored the action taken by MDC Alliance and the failure to maintain peaceful demonstrations.
“We call upon Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to exercise its mandate by ensuring that presidential results are announced within the specified 5 day time frame.”
It also called on the MDC Alliance to respect the ZEC process and allow the electoral process to get to its logical conclusion.
This is an eye-witness account of the military crackdown on people in Harare, which the author, who is too afraid to be identified, describes as the most disturbing event witnessed.
“That is when l saw the soldiers coming. Some were in military vehicles. Others were walking on foot. I have never seen so many soldiers in my life. They were angry. Some were holding guns, others sjamboks. It felt like a war had broken out in Harare, a city which is normally calm.”
Picture: Military forces chased protesting MDC supporters in Harare. (Mujahid Safodien, GroundUp)
Human rights activists in Zimbabwe are condemning the military crackdown on opposition protesters in the capital, saying it raises questions about whether the current government is any different from that of former leader Robert Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum says member groups saw soldiers firing “randomly” in downtown Harare and beating up bystanders who were not involved in the protests on Wednesday. Three people were killed in the election-related violence.
The activists are denouncing violent protests but calling the government’s reaction illegal and “grossly disproportionate to the violence that it sought to contain”.
A journalist in Zimbabwe has tweeted an image of police closing off an MDC-T office in Bulawayo. He tweeted earlier that “Harare is closed for business”.
Violence erupted in the capital of Harare that has claimed the lives of three people.
The Commonwealth’s election observer group in Zimbabwe has already warned that further violence could undermine the progress achieved in the country’s elections so far.
Mahiya: ‘Why did the MDC-A organise violent demonstrations?’
Zimbabwe’s war veterans have blamed the MDC Alliance for Wednesday’s violence on Harare’s streets, reports News24 correspondent Carie du Plessis.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said supporters of opposition candidate, Nelson Chamisa, should be aware that any of the 23 presidential candidates could win the election.
“Questions abound,” he told journalists at a press conference at the Rainbow Towers Hotel, “why did the MDC-A organise violent demonstrations? Why did they think their candidate was the winner and no one else except them?”
He said Zanu-PF had a longer history than the opposition, spanning back to 1963.
“Why would he [Chamisa] think that he would not lose elections against a party that has done their homework? There is no way these parties can turn back the hands of time and get the credit. So the people know what they want and I think we are all going to receive what people chose.”
File photo: Douglas Mahiya. (AFP)
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has told reporters it will announce the results of Monday’s presidential election “very soon”.
Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster earlier tweeted that the commission said it would announce those results at 21:00.
That tweet has been deleted.
By law the commission has five days from Monday’s election to release the results.
The European Union is appealing for calm in Zimbabwe a day after deadly violence linked to Monday’s elections that the EU says were marred by “shortcomings.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s office says in a statement that “we appeal for calm and restraint on all sides and for protests to be conducted according to the law”.
The statement notes that “a number of shortcomings were observed, including the lack of a truly level playing field” surrounding the vote. – AP