Zanu PF in early lead

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu PF party has taken an early lead although it was still too early to tell in which direction the pendulum would swing since some of the results are still pending.

Results of National Assembly polls released by the under-fire Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) so far put Zanu PF ahead of its main rival, the MDC Alliance led by 40-year-old, Nelson Chamisa.

At the time of going to print, Zanu PF had won in 36 constituencies out of the 48 whose results were released yesterday.

The National Patriotic Front won in Kwekwe Central, where Masango Matambanadzo prevailed over rivals in both Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance.

Zanu PF won in Marondera West, Mudzi North, Masvingo South, Masvingo West, Hwedza South, Chiredzi East, Chiredzi North, Chiredzi South, Chiredzi West, Gutu South, Mutare North, Muzarabani South, Buhera West, Chipinge Central, Mhondoro-Mubaira, Umguza, Mberengwa South, Uzumba, Mberengwa West, Shurugwi North, Mberengwa North, Zvishavane-Ngezi, Zvishavane-Runde, Mutoko East, Chikomba East, Murewa North, Mutoko North, Marondera East, Mutoko South, Mudzi West, Chikomba West, Murewa West,
Insiza South, Lupane West, Gwanda South and  Nkayi South.

The MDC Alliance won in Marondera Central, Hwange East, Hwange West, Chipinge West, Chipinge East, Kadoma Central, Mutare Central, Chinhoyi, Makokoba, Emakhandeni and in Gwanda Central.

A total of 210 constituencies were being contested for.

Zec was running a total of 10 985 polling stations and the results from these stations were being transmitted to the command centre for verification before being made public.

Several civic society groups are collating these results from the polling stations where they are pasted outside, though they are not allowed to release full results before the official tally is known.

Zec started announcing the results at around 4pm yesterday, having initially promised to start releasing them at 3pm.

All the results, including for the presidential and local government polls should be made public by August 4 as Zec is legally mandated to do so within five days from the voting day.

The real battle in these historic polls is between Chamisa and Mnangagwa of Zanu PF, aged 75.

Earlier in the morning yesterday, Chamisa had claimed that he was “winning resoundingly”.

His claims of imminent victory are consistent with a strategy over several weeks that has sought to put Zanu PF on the defensive and make rigging more difficult.

His supporters gathered at their headquarters in the capital yesterday afternoon, celebrating in the belief that they have won the election despite the lack of official results.

They were dancing to music blaring from speakers mounted on a truck at Harvest House, the MDC’s headquarters, which says it conducted its own count.

Mnangagwa also tweeted yesterday morning that he was “delighted by the high turnout and citizen engagement so far”.

He added: “The information from our reps on the ground is extremely positive! Waiting patiently for official results as per the Constitution.”

Tensions were beginning to escalate yesterday, with social media whipping up emotions among an expectant populace torn along political lines.

Andrew Makoni, of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) – a coalition of civil society groups that deployed 6 500 monitors during the vote – told the Guardian yesterday that the tension in the country could explode into violence.

“The fear is that people are going to be disgruntled to the point where they go into the streets and then there is a worry what the response will be from the security forces in the country,” he said.

“Our peaceful environment before and during the voting process might be marred by violence after the announcement of the results.”

Makoni said Zesn was working to confirm reports from activists in the field that as many as a fifth of polling stations had not published results.

This would mean the results of up to a million ballots cannot be independently verified.

Makoni said Zesn had found evidence of significant differences in the rates of registration of rural and urban voters, and old and young.

The opposition is more popular among a more youthful demographic in cities and towns where, the monitors found, registration rates had been lower.

Yesterday, Tendai Biti, a former Finance minister and principal in Chamisa’s MDC Alliance, complained bitterly about Zec’s inordinate delay in releasing the presidential results.

“There is a deliberate delay to announce results by Zec. We are concerned by the failure to produce, V11 forms by Zec. We have received from our agents, the results.
We can confirm Nelson Chamisa is the new Zimbabwean president,” Biti claimed yesterday, adding Zec’s refusal to post V11 forms at 21 percent of all polling stations was a stark attestation of electoral fraud.

He said a parallel voter tabulation of Zec results displayed outside polling stations indicate that Chamisa had won the election, saying the alliance will file a petition in court challenging the delay in the release of presidential election results.

In the 2008 elections, Biti was arrested and charged with communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state by announcing that Morgan Tsvangirai (now late) had won the March 2008 presidential election by an outright majority.

Results announced by Zec five weeks later indicated that while Tsvangirai had beaten Mugabe, he had failed to garner a majority.

Biti said “in the event that Zec announce otherwise...we will take corrective measures.”

Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba said people should not be quick to announce the results as this was against the Electoral Act and would raise
political emotions.

“The commission would like to advise that we will announce the results as they come in and all stakeholders are reminded that it is unlawful to announce results as this is a direct contravention of section 66 (a) subsection (a) sub subsection(e) of the Electoral Act,” she said.

“The announcement of unofficial election results has the potential to mislead the public and raise unnecessary political emotions. The public is warned to disregard results not officially announced by the Zimbabwe electoral commission.”

“Our results management procedure is very simple and basic, each polling station as it finishes counting will post the results outside...The results are considered notice to the whole world as results of that polling station. However, we have approximately 11 000 polling stations and the process of collecting those results ward by ward, constituency by constituency and then having those results sent to us for collation of the presidential results, that is why it will take us a few days,” Chigumba said.

Chigumba said the commission was confident that they had not been any rigging.

The July 30 elections are the first since former president Robert Mugabe was ousted last November.

The turnout during voting was huge, with Zec putting the turnout at 75 percent.

If no candidate wins more than half the votes, there will be a runoff in five weeks, though analysts believe this scenario is unlikely.

In 2008, dozens of people were killed before a runoff between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, who died from cancer in February.

Another possibility is negotiations to form a coalition government if the result is very close.

There are widespread fears among opposition activists and supporters that the government or the military could refuse to cede power if defeated. This would provoke massive protests, MDC loyalists have said.

Although the campaign has been free of the systematic violence that marred previous polls, the MDC has repeatedly claimed it has been hindered by a flawed electoral roll, ballot paper malpractice, voter intimidation and handouts to voters from the ruling party.

The MDC has repeatedly accused the election commission of bias, and many of their allegations have been supported by independent analysts and experts.

Activists said the results were still too close to call. – Additional reporting by The Guardian

Comments (3)

I told you people MDC can not beat ZANUPF in an election. I believe Electoral Commission knows the secret why.

Chikowore - 1 August 2018

ZANUPF and the military rigged both the 08 and 13 elections. The same persons are in charge with Chinese involvement in these 18 elections. The public have been lulled into a peaceful / free election period because the plans were in place months ago. The people at large in Zimbabwe know how they voted, an expression of displeasure is now being expressed. Tragically, the powers that be over reacted because the plan of peaceful elections has now been exposed as fraudulent. The International community now need to introduce heavier sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Neil - 2 August 2018

This man is a killer

Makhosi - 2 August 2018

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