Zimbabwe's President Mnangagwa Secures Second Term Amid Opposition Dispute
Zimbabwe's President Mnangagwa secures second term amid opposition dispute. The results have triggered a wave of dispute from the opposition and skepticism from international observers. According to analysts, despite the prevailing economic turmoil, Mnangagwa's victory was anticipated due to the heavily skewed electoral environment favoring the ruling ZANU-PF party.
The recently concluded 2023 elections saw Mnangagwa securing 52.6 percent of the votes, while his main rival, Nelson Chamisa, obtained 44 percent, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) official announcement.
Justice Chigumba, the chairwoman of ZEC, declared:
Mnangagwa Emmerson Dambudzo of ZANU-PF party is declared duly elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.- Justice Chigumba
Nevertheless, the process leading to this outcome was fraught with controversy and delays, casting a shadow over the legitimacy of the results.
The opposition, represented by Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), vehemently rejected the outcome, labeling it as “false” and refusing to sign the final tally. Promise Mkwananzi, a CCC spokesperson, stated, “We cannot accept the results,” while hinting at potential legal action. The integrity of the elections had already been questioned by foreign poll monitors who asserted that the voting process did not meet regional and international standards.
Observers noted various issues, including voting delays, problems with the voter roll, restrictions on opposition gatherings, and biased state media coverage. These concerns have led to allegations of irregularities and have left a significant portion of the electorate dissatisfied.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya argued:
The elections were fraught with irregularities and aggrieved the people of Zimbabwe.- Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya
Such discontent raises the possibility of legal challenges to the election results.
The ruling ZANU-PF party, however, denies any impropriety and asserts that it has not manipulated the election process to its advantage. Despite the controversy, Mnangagwa's win, having received over 2.3 million votes, secured him the presidency without the need for a run-off. The voter turnout was reported at 69 percent.
The timing of the announcement itself has raised eyebrows. Nicole Beardsworth, a politics lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, speculated that the late Saturday release of the results might have been a response to criticism from regional and international observers. Beardsworth stated, “We all have a lot of questions about the speed with which ZEC is announcing presidential results.”
Mnangagwa, known by the moniker “The Crocodile,” had previously maneuvered his way into power following a 2017 coup against long-standing leader Robert Mugabe. In the 2018 election, he narrowly defeated Chamisa amidst allegations of fraud, a result upheld by the constitutional court. This time around, the election process faced unprecedented challenges, including a two-day voting period due to ballot paper printing delays.
The election outcome not only determines Zimbabwe’s presidency but also shapes the composition of its parliament. ZANU-PF secured 136 of the 210 seats under the first-past-the-post system, compared to 73 for the CCC. An additional 60 seats are reserved for women via proportional representation.
In the aftermath of the election, international observers expressed concern about Zimbabwe's political and economic trajectory. Despite the ruling party’s victory, the country continues to grapple with issues such as hyperinflation, unemployment, poverty, and a climate of fear. The opposition's refusal to accept the results and the criticisms raised by regional and international bodies highlight the deeply divided nature of Zimbabwean politics and the challenges facing its democratic process.