President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe wins a second term in a contested election

Election officials announced on Saturday that Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa had won a second term in office; however, the opposition rejected the outcome of a poll that international observers said did not meet democratic norms.

According to official results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Mnangagwa, 80, received 52.6% of the votes, compared to Nelson Chamisa, 45, who came in second with 44%.

According to ZEC chairwoman Justice Chigumba, Mnangagwa Emmerson Dambudzo of the ZANU-PF party has been declared legitimately elected as the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Zimbabweans went to the polls to elect the country’s president and legislature. The voting process was hampered by delays, which led the opposition to charge that there had been voter suppression and vote-rigging.

A few ruling party supporters cheered in celebration when the presidential results were announced at the news conference site.

The final tally, according to Promise Mkwananzi, a spokeswoman for Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), was deemed “false” because the party did not sign it.

He told AFP, “We cannot accept the results,” and that the party would soon make an announcement regarding its future step.

The poll was being observed throughout southern Africa as a test of Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF’s popularity, whose 43-year rule has been weakened by a stagnant economy and accusations of tyranny.

The elections did not meet regional and international norms, according to foreign poll monitors who reported their findings on Friday.

– ‘Rigging’ –

Observer missions from the European Union, Commonwealth and the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) listed a number of concerns, including the banning of opposition rallies, issues with the voters roll, biased state media coverage and voter intimidation.

“The elections were fraught with irregularities and aggrieved the people of Zimbabwe,” political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said.

“The CCC has good grounds to go to court and challenge the outcome”.

Chigumba of ZEC said Mnangagwa had won more than 2.3 million votes, Chamisa more than 1.9 million.

By securing more than half the votes cast, the president avoided a run-off. Voter turnout was 69 percent.

Nicknamed “The Crocodile” because of his ruthlessness, Mnangagwa first came to power after a coup that deposed the late ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017.

A year later, he narrowly beat Chamisa a first time in a poll that the opposition leader condemned as fraudulent and which was followed by a deadly crackdown.

This week, voting was forced to stretch into an unprecedented second day because of delays in printing of ballot papers in some key districts including the opposition stronghold Harare.

Chamisa condemned the delays as “a clear case of voter suppression, a classic case of Stone-Age… rigging”.

As a white-ruled British colony named Rhodesia, the country broke away from London in 1965, gaining independence in 1980 after a long guerrilla war and renamed Zimbabwe.

But under Mugabe, its first leader, the fledgling democracy spiralled into hardline rule and economic decline, with hyperinflation wiping out savings and deterring investment.

The opposition hoped to ride a wave of discontent over corruption, high inflation, unemployment and entrenched poverty.

But ZANU-PF was also declared the winner in the parliamentary race, securing 136 of the 210 seats up for grabs under a first-past-the-post system, against 73 for the CCC. One seat was not assigned due to the death of a candidate.

Another 60 are reserved for women appointed through a party-list system of proportional representation.

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