Zimbabwe boils! All you want to know about the elections
Zimbabwe remains on a knife edge on Thursday morning after post-election violence which saw at least three people dead, scores injured and police invoking the Public Order Security Act
Zimbabwe remains on a knife edge on Thursday morning after post-election violence which saw at least three people dead, scores injured and police invoking the Public Order Security Act.
The act, which forbids public gatherings, was enforced after clashes broke out in Harare between soldiers and civilians who had been protesting the ruling Zanu-PF’s majority win in parliament.
Live ammunition was used to disperse the crowds, leading to pandemonium in the capital.
Army patrols continued into the night on the streets of Harare.
Wednesday’s violence, which also saw the destruction of property and bloodshed, has been blamed on supporters of opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
This is because on Tuesday, one of the MDC Alliance leaders, Tendai Biti, declared at a press conference that Chamisa had won the election, prompting celebrations outside the party’s headquarters.
But things took a different turn on Wednesday when the country’s electoral commission announced that Zanu-PF had in fact secured a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The news did not go down well with opposition supporters who asserted that results were rigged in favour of the ruling party.
There was violent confrontation between them and the army.
The confrontation quickly escalated and soldiers carrying rifles could be seen assaulting civilians.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed the nation last night, blaming the violence on Chamisa.
Police say they are viewing video footage to determine who incited the violence.
POLICE DEFEND ARMY DEPLOYMENT
Zimbabwean police have defended their decision to call for army back up to deal with Wednesday’s violence in Harare, saying they did not have enough officers.
The US Embassy in Harare has urged the military to exercise restraint while diffusing tensions, saying it is deeply concerned about how it dealt with civilians.
The police’s Charity Charamba says the police chief requested the backup.
“It’s not a secret that our police officers are currently deployed throughout the entire country and the level of lawlessness in Harare has actually led to this decision.”
But it’s been argued that this decision led to the chaos and the subsequent deaths of at least three people.
Meanwhile, while the opposition MDC Alliance says it is not taking responsibility for the violence while in his address to the nation on Wednesday night, President Emmerson Mnangangwa called on political parties to accept that in any electoral process there are winners and losers.
Blood could be seen on the streets of Zimbabwe after police used live ammunition on civilians and protesters who accused the electoral commission of rigging results. Members of the media have also been assaulted and some had their equipment broken.
A man, who was bleeding from the mouth after being hit, said: “I was beaten by the soldiers, okay. I was hit during the demonstration.”
Protesters here have called for intervention from Southern African Development Community and the African Union, calling this a war between citizens and the Zanu-PF led government.
Gunfire crackled in the streets while troops, backed by armoured vehicles and a military helicopter and some with their faces masked, cleared the streets.
One person was shot dead near a bus rank, witnesses at the scene told a Reuters photographer.
The deployment of soldiers and their beating of unarmed protesters is a setback to Mnangagwa’s efforts to shed Zimbabwe’s pariah status after decades of repression under Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in November.
Read Also: Mugabe won’t vote for the party he helped form. Why it may not count
Even before the violence, European Union observers questioned the conduct of the presidential and parliamentary poll, the first since Mugabe’s forced resignation after nearly 40 years in charge of the Southern African nation.
Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the army had been called in to ensure “peace and tranquility”, although the legal basis for the move looks dubious, especially so soon after the military’s unconstitutional move against 94-year-old Mugabe.
Without the stamp of approval of the international community, Zimbabwe’s next leader will struggle to unlock the billions of dollars of international donor finance needed to get the shattered economy back on its feet.
The EU observers expressed concern about delays in releasing the results of the presidential contest, a two-horse race between Chamisa and Mnangagwa, head of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
As gunfire echoed through downtown Harare, Mnangagwa called for calm and urge patience while results were collated.
Many protesters accused the army of unprovoked brutality.
“We had no weapons. Why are the army here beating us? shooting us? This is not an election it is a disgrace on our country,” one young man, Colbert Mugwenhi, said.
A Reuters witness saw soldiers with sticks beat two people and counted at least five trucks full of soldiers.
“We are tired of them stealing our votes. This time we will not allow it, we will fight,” said one protester who wore a red MDC beret in central Harare.
The electoral commission had said it would start announcing results for the presidential race from 10.30 GMT but that was then pushed back at least 24 hours.
With three seats yet to be declared in the parliamentary contest, Zanu-PF had 144 seats compared to 61 for the MDC, meaning the ruling party achieved the two-thirds majority that permits it to change the constitution at will.
Chamisa said the early release of the parliamentary results was a deliberate ploy to prepare Zimbabweans for a victory by Mnangagwa, a former national security chief nicknamed ‘The Crocodile’ and commonly referred to by the initials ED.
“The strategy is meant to prepare Zimbabwe mentally to accept fake presidential results. We’ve more votes than ED. We won the popular vote (and) will defend it,” Chamisa said on Twitter.
Before the violence, EU Chief Observer Elmar Brok said he did not yet know if the shortcomings would have a material effect on the outcome of the vote, but criticised the electoral commission for being at times “one-sided”.
The EU’s assessment is critical in determining whether Zimbabwe can repair its image and attract the foreign investors needed for an economic revival.
The EU did not understand why the release of the presidential result was taking so long, Brok said.
“The longer it lasts that the results of the presidential election is not known, the more lack of credibility it provides,” he said.
Zimbabwe was once one of Africa’s most promising economies but became descended into corruption, mismanagement and diplomatic isolation in the latter stages of Mugabe’s administration.
Its population of 13 million is struggling amid shortages of foreign currency, unemployment above 80% and lack of foreign investment.
South Africa: Opposition, DA want findings on alleged arms supply to Russia public
South African opposition party, the Democratic Alliance has vowed to challenge the decision by the presidency to keep from the public, findings from recent arm supply allegations.
The follows allegations by United States Ambassador, Reuben Brigety that South Africa provided ammunition to Russia by ship. Brigety said the US was sure that contrary to its public claim of being non-aligned in the Russia/Ukraine crisis, South Africa supplied arms to Vladimir Putin’s army in December.
Following the allegation, President Ramaphosa launched an investigation to be conducted by an independent body which will be led by retired Deputy Justice Phineas Mojapelo, advocate Leah Gcabashe, and former justice minister Enver Surty. Meanwhile, his spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said the government would withhold the panel’s findings.
Magwenya said the terms of reference for the inquiry would not be gazetted or published.
“The investigation covers issues of national security and classified information, which is protected from disclosure,” he said.
“This inquiry has been instituted in a similar manner to the inquiry that investigated the July 2021 riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and the value of its report remains unchallenged.
“The panel will be supported in gathering the information that is necessary to fulfil its mandate by letters from the president instructing all relevant government entities as identified by the panel to cooperate fully with the panel or face disciplinary sanction,” he said.
“The work of the panel will not be public, nor will its report be made public. The president will speak to any actions that may result with respect to national security. This is provided for within our secrecy laws as per the nature of this matter,” he added.
In a statement, the DA said it would not ” leave this secrecy unchallenged. We have already submitted an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain a copy of the panel’s terms of reference. And we are obtaining legal advice to challenge Ramaphosa’s plan to hide the report once it is complete.”
The party leader, John Steenhuisen argued that keeping the report private “undermines the ability of prosecutors and the public to hold guilty parties accountable for any such violations of the law”.
“Hiding this report from public view will rob the people of South Africa – and of the world – of the opportunity to see the full facts of this matter.
“Refusing to disclose the complete picture of how the ANC-led government allegedly smuggled weapons to arm Russia’s war in Ukraine and various parts of Africa will also undermine the very purpose of the investigation.”
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission, ZEC promises to publicise voters’ register
The electoral commission in Zimbabwe said it would soon publish the voters’ register for the forthcoming general elections.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) also assured the public of a fair election and promised to rectify anomalies that were observed during the voters’ inspection exercise.
The head of ZEC, Utloile Silaigwana made the position known when he announced the end of the mop-up voter registration exercise on Friday.
Silaigwana further revealed that the Nomination court would sit on 21 June and thereafter the voters’ roll would be accessible to candidates.
There are contentions about the neutrality of the electoral commission. In March, a member of the opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Allan Markham filed a court application challenging ZEC for access to the electronic voters’ roll but had his request rejected because “it was too risky” and in the interest of data protection.
Meanwhile, the ruling party, Zanu PF sent text messages to registered voters during the period urging them to vote for President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This move further fuelled the allegation that Zanu PF had access to the voters’ roll which is why it was able to send the messages.
President Mnangagwa is running for re-election to a second term after coming to power following a military coup that dislodged Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president in 2017.
The country is struggling with deep poverty, recurring power outages, and crippling unemployment, all of which have fuelled widespread resentment.
The President of Zimbabwe is elected using a two-round system. The Zimbabwean legislature is made up of 270 members of the National Assembly, 210 members elected in single-member constituencies, and 60 women elected by proportional representation in ten six-seat constituencies based on the country’s provinces.
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