The opposition candidate in Zimbabwe’s presidential election, Nelson Chamisa, has declared that he is the winner of the vote and he will not accept the country’s election commission awarding a “fraudulent” victory to his rival Emmerson Mnangagwa and “neither will the people ”.
The warning by the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), with the announcement of the result imminent, has added fuel to an already combustible situation after an eruption of violence on Wednesday in which six people were shot dead by troops after running battles in the streets.
Mr Chamisa repeatedly stated the public would take direct action if Mr Mnangagwa is declared the winner: “If they find that their vote has been ignored. They did not vote for ED Mnangagwa and they wil not accept him being imposed as the President. We do not control the people, they will do what they think is right,” he said.
He also dismissed the idea of making a legal challenge the election result. “That would be a slippery path. When you go into the court you are going into the lion’s den. We are not going to be a meal for the lions”, he said.
Amid rising acrimony the police raided the MDC headquarters on Thursday, arrested a number of people and took away computers. The operation was part of a security crackdown following the clashes between the security forces and crowds protesting against the election commission announcing that the ruling Zanu-PF party had won a parliamentary poll by a large majority.
Mr Chamisa and other opposition leaders are being investigated, according to a warrant of suspected “possession of dangerous weapons” and encouraging “public violence”. But the real reason for the raid, Mr Chamisa claimed, was to remove evidence the party has discovered of vote rigging by Mr Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF. “But don’t worry, the evidence has already been taken to a safe house” he said.
Zanu-PF officials have denied claims of vote manipulation.
Just hours to go before Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) is due to announce the winner after a bitter and acrimonious campaign, Mr Chamisa insisted that the figures collated by the MDC showed that he was the clear winner. He did not, however, want to give out the figures because “it would be illegal and I don’t want to break the law.”
The MDC has repeatedly accused the ZEC of allowing rigging, but with Zan-PF winning a parliamentary majority, Mr Chamisa said his party “have accepted that result.”
But, he alleged that ZEC has continued with malpractice “and receives its orders from others”. The publication of the presidential results have been deliberately delayed, he claimed, to allow subterfuge to take place.
“Mr Mnangagwa knows it that he has lost this election. If he had won this election the result will have been announced long back but they are trying to massage the figures to try to advance fictitious and fallacious results. We know the results,” Mr Chamisa said.
A desperate Zanu-PF government, he claimed, was “using the tactics of Robert Mugabe” as was shown by the killing of protestors. “This government does not respect life,” he said and demanded that those responsible for ordering the shooting should be prosecuted, inferring this may include Mr Mnangagwa, who has been the acting president ever since the overthrow of Mr Mugabe.
“The ranks of those responsible don’t come into it. How far does it go, does it include the commander-in-chief? Does it include the highest in the land? Who ordered the army to turn its guns on the people?” Mr Chamisa asked. “I have visited all those injured and bereaved families, they weren’t even MDC members, but people protesting against vote rigging. And those kinds of protests will continue if they think there is further vote rigging.”
Mr Mnangagwa has accused Mr Chamisa of whipping up violence with his rhetoric and as accusations and counter accusations continue there is sense of foreboding in Zimbabwe’s capital about what lies ahead.
The normally bustling streets of Harare have been extremely quiet, with many shops shut. The military are patrolling the streets and have been telling people to go home. “I was told it was for my own safety, when I asked why they said there is likely to be violence”, said Fortune Nujei, an unemployed surveyor. “ The only violence, I thought, had come from you guys [the military]. But I didn’t say anything, these are dangerous days I think.”
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