Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa casts his ballot in Zimbabwe’s general elections in Harare on July 30 2018. Picture: REUTERS
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa casts his ballot in Zimbabwe’s general elections in Harare on July 30 2018. Picture: REUTERS

Harare — MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said on his official Twitter feed on Tuesday his party had collected results from more than 10,000 polling stations, which showed it had done exceedingly well and was ready to form Zimbabwe’s next government.

His adversary, 75-year-old incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa, was equally upbeat.

“Awaiting ZEC to perform their constitutional duty to officially announce the people’s election results and we are ready to form the next government,” Chamisa said.

Mnangagwa said on Tuesday that Zanu-PF was receiving “extremely positive” information from its representatives, a day after the first election since Robert Mugabe resigned following a bloodless coup.

Mnangagwa said on Twitter that he was delighted by the high voter turnout.

Counting was under way on Tuesday, but observers warned of possible shortcomings in Monday’s landmark poll.

Several civil society groups are collating results in parallel with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) but are not allowed to release results before the ZEC. A source at one group said it was too early to call a winner but it was looking “very close”.

Officials overseeing the polls, in which a record number of candidates stood, said many polling stations had queues and estimated that average turnout was about 75% by 4pm GMT on Monday.

"It is our view that the high voter turnout is indicative of sound voter education and publicity," Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairwoman Priscilla Chigumba said at a media briefing in Harare.

Previously banned European Union election observers, present for the first time in years, said participation appeared high but warned of possible "shortcomings" that they still had to look into.

"We don’t know yet whether it was a pattern or whether it was a question of bad organisation in certain polling stations," the EU’s chief observer, Elmar Brok, told AFP.

"Overall (there was) a huge amount of voting — especially young people, mostly in a very good atmosphere, generally peaceful, which is positive."

With 5.6-million registered voters, the results of the presidential, parliamentary and local elections are due by August 4.

A run-off vote is scheduled for September 8 if no presidential candidate wins at least 50%.

Chamisa raised fraud allegations on Monday, saying his victory would be assured if rigged ballots were excluded.

On Twitter, he alleged there was a "deliberate attempt to suppress" voting in urban areas — MDC strongholds.

Elections under Mugabe were marred by systematic fraud and often deadly violence but campaigning ahead of Monday’s vote was relatively unrestricted and peaceful.

A recent Afrobarometer survey of 2,400 people put Mnangagwa on 40% and Chamisa on 37%, with 20% undecided.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned of intimidation and threats of violence in the run-up to polling day, but said it was encouraged to see open rallies and peaceful demonstrations.

"While investors remain sceptical over whether Mugabe’s former right-hand man has indeed turned over a new leaf, Mnangagwa’s charm offensive with Western governments and businesses has at least given him a credible lifeline at the poll," Verisk Maplecrodt analyst Charles Laurie said in a note.

Reuters and AFP