HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former spy chief put in after Robert Mugabe’s removing in a coup in November, was elected on Thursday after a ballot marred by the deaths of six individuals in a military crackdown on opposition protests.
After two days of claims and counterclaims, the 75-year-old Mnangagwa secured a snug victory, polling 2.46 million votes towards 2.15 million for 40-year-old opposition chief Nelson Chamisa.
The election, the primary for the reason that military’s removing of 94-year-old Mugabe, handed off comparatively easily however its aftermath revealed the deep rifts in Zimbabwean society and the instinctive heavy-handedness of the safety forces.
On Wednesday, troops backed by armored automobiles and a navy helicopter have been despatched in to crush demonstrations by stone-throwing opposition supporters who stated Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF occasion had rigged the elections.
Six individuals have been killed as troopers, some with their faces obscured by camouflage masks, opened hearth with computerized weapons.
The next day, troopers ordered civilians off the streets of the capital, regardless of calls from overseas governments and worldwide organizations for calm and for political leaders to point out restraint.
Police then sealed off the headquarters of Chamisa’s Motion for Democratic Change (MDC) earlier than storming the constructing and arresting 16 individuals. The search warrant stated they have been in search of unlicensed firearms, grenades and stones.
Coupled with video of troopers firing on unarmed demonstrators on Wednesday, the raid does critical harm to Mnangagwa’s efforts to rehabilitate the picture of a rustic synonymous with political repression and financial collapse.
Questioning the independence of the judiciary, Chamisa stated he was reluctant to go to court docket to problem the outcomes, saying this is able to be “going into the lion’s den”.
“We aren’t about to be a meal for lions,” he instructed reporters, alleging that Mnangagwa’s ruling ZANU-PF occasion had rigged the ballot however with out offering any concrete proof.
An MDC official briefly interrupted the outcomes announcement to say the occasion rejected the outcome because it had not been in a position to confirm them.
Wednesday’s crackdown by the military crushed the final vestiges of euphoria that adopted its removing of Mugabe in November and fueled suspicions that the generals who launched the coup remained Zimbabwe’s de facto rulers.
In Harare, the distinction couldn’t have been starker with November, when lots of of hundreds crammed the streets, hugging troopers and celebrating their position in ousting Mugabe, the one chief Zimbabwe had recognized since independence in 1980.
“They’re exhibiting their true colours now. We thought they have been our savior in November however they fooled us,” stated newspaper vendor Farai Dzengera, saying that the transient dream of an finish to a long time of repression was over.
“What can we do? … They run this nation.”
Earlier than the police stormed the MDC headquarters, Secretary Basic Douglas Mwonzora stated 27 occasion employees finishing up voter tabulation have been locked inside its workplaces by officers who had sealed off the constructing.
“We is not going to acknowledge that search warrant as a result of they need to plant proof. They need to disrupt our outcomes tabulation course of, that’s all,” he stated.
Police denied the allegation. “The police are there to do their job,” police spokeswoman Charity Charamba stated.
Practically all retailers in downtown Harare have been shuttered and the usually bustling pavements quiet the day after the bloodshed.
Mnangagwa’s spokesman, George Charamba, insisted that Thursday was a standard working day. “They need to go about their enterprise as all the time,” he stated on state tv.
ARMY IN CHARGE
Wednesday’s violence and the usage of troopers to manage the capital confirms suspicions that the generals who ousted Mugabe – together with military chief-turned vice-president Constantino Chiwenga – are firmly in cost, analysts stated.
“Deployment of troops reveals the uncomfortable reality that, eight months after Mugabe was ousted, the military stays the pre-eminent political drive,” stated Piers Pigou, a Zimbabwe professional on the Worldwide Disaster Group think-tank.
The election was supposed to substantiate the legitimacy of the post-Mugabe authorities and permit Harare to resume ties with the worldwide group.
This in flip would have allowed it to start out unlocking the donor funding and funding wanted to get its financial system – at independence, considered one of Africa’s most vibrant – again on its toes.
As a substitute, observers from the Commonwealth, a gaggle of primarily former British colonies that Mnangagwa had hoped to rejoin, didn’t mince phrases in condemning the navy’s conduct.
“We categorically denounce the extreme use of drive towards unarmed civilians,” former Ghanaian president John Mahama stated on behalf of the Commonwealth.
The United Nations and European Union each urged restraint, whereas Britain, a supporter of the “new” post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, stated it was “deeply involved” by the violence. China stated nonetheless it believed the election had usually been orderly.
Mnangagwa, a long-term Mugabe aide nicknamed ‘The Crocodile’, supplied his condolences to households of the victims of the crackdown and stated these accountable can be delivered to justice.
Extra reporting and writing by Ed Cropley and James Macharia; Enhancing by James Dalgleish