Zimbabwe in old place after elections

Sunday September 03 2023

President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa arrives for a press conference at State House in Harare on August 27, 2023. PHOTO | AFP


Zimbabwe remains on the edge, a week after the country held elections that saw President Emmerson Mnangagwa win a second term amid rigging claims by the opposition.

President Mnangagwa, 80, was declared the winner with 52.6 percent of vote against his 45-year-old rival Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), who polled 44 percent in an election marred by delays in the delivery of election material in opposition strongholds.

Foreign observer missions, including those from Africa that are usually measured in their assessments, said the August 23 to 24 polls did not meet international and regional standards.

Read: Foreign observers say Zimbabwe poll not free and fair

They cited a hostile pre-election environment for the opposition in the disqualification of opposition candidates, lack of access to the voters' roll, draconian laws, and arrests of activists and banning of CCC rallies.

The CCC is demanding cancellation of the election to pave way for new polls with threats of mass protests. On the other hand, President Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF says adverse reports by observer missions are part of a regime change agenda by the West.


According to the Zimbabwe constitution, Chamisa has up to Friday to file a Constitutional Court challenge against the poll outcome.

Losing parliamentary candidates are given 14 days to challenge the results and such cases take six months to be resolved.

If there is no legal challenge, the president-elect takes the oath of office on the ninth day after being declared winner of the polls and in this case President Mnangagwa will be sworn in early next week.

Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), whose election observer mission produced an uncharacteristically damning preliminary report on the elections, this week dispatched a panel of elders to try and diffuse the potentially volatile situation in Zimbabwe.

Read: SADC pokes holes in Zimbabwe elections

Observers differ

Former Botswana’s Labour and Home Affairs minister Charles Tibone is leading the panel after he replaced former Tanzania president Jakaya Kikwete, who was initially appointed head of the delegation.

Observers, however, say it is highly unlikely President Mnangagwa will give in to demands for fresh elections.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the ruling party will not be forced to give away its victory and ruled out any prospect of a fresh election.
“Section 93(1) of the constitution is clear about what an aggrieved person must do,” Mr Ziyambi said.

“They must file a petition within seven days of declaration of the winner by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

“There is no reason for President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF to give away their win. Zimbabwe as a sovereign state cannot be pressured to change its constitution or domestic laws by a regional or international observer mission or SADC itself or the European Union.”

Mr Ziyambi said, “no election is 100 percent perfect.”

Read: Zimbabwe’s new elections facing familiar old fears

He claimed that any CCC petition was unlikely to succeed in court because the electoral management body only needed to prove “substantial compliance” with the laws governing elections.

The last time regional bodies were forced to intervene to break a Zimbabwean political stalemate was in 2008 when former South African president Thabo Mbeki was tasked by SADC to bring the late Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai to the negotiating table after a disputed election.

Political deal floated

A year later, Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai formed an inclusive government that halted economic collapse and brought some political stability. One of Zanu PF’s negotiators in the protracted talks that led to the unity pact, Patrick Chinamasa, said there was no possibility of another inclusive government.

“It is unthinkable that Zanu PF will go to bed with or cosy up to a known and declared agent of imperialism and colonialism,” Mr Chinamasa said on X, which was previously known as Twitter.

“(Advocate) Chamisa must be out of his mind to ever think that the mass revolutionary Zanu PF party will entertain political deals with a quisling.”

Zanu PF also used to refer to Tsvangirai as a puppet of the West, but when he died a few months after the coup that toppled Mugabe in 2017, the ruling party hailed the former prime minister as a hero.

Read: Zimbabwe opposition fears skewed poll

CCC deputy spokesperson Ostallos Siziba said they were not going “to settle for less, other than a free, fair, credible and proper election.”

“The solution lies in calling upon our African brothers to facilitate, mediate, scaffold and more importantly, to guarantee a process that will lead our return to legitimacy in the shortest period,” Mr Siziba said.

“This election that we are coming from, was a flawed process in its entirety for avoidance of doubt and the solution to put it very clearly is to have a fresh, free, fair and credible election.”

CCC said it was launching a fresh election campaign where it will engage both “local and expatriate Zimbabwean citizens in an effort to address the persistent issue of disputed elections in Zimbabwe.”

The party did not elaborate on the nature of the campaign with speculation rife that it will organise street protests.