Supporters of Zanu-PF celebrate the results of Zimbabwe's election, in Harare in the early hours of August 3 2018, after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner of the presidential poll. Picture: AFP
Supporters of Zanu-PF celebrate the results of Zimbabwe's election, in Harare in the early hours of August 3 2018, after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner of the presidential poll. Picture: AFP

Emmerson Mnangagwa has won the Zimbabwean presidential election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced early on Friday morning amid growing tensions in the country.

ZEC chairwoman Priscilla Chigumba said on Thursday night Mnangagwa had received 2,460,463 votes (50.8%) followed by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa with 2,147,436 votes (44.3%).

"I do hereby declare that the votes by [Mnangagwa] are more than half the number cast in the presidential election. [Mnangagwa] is, therefore, duly declared as elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe with effect from August 3, 2018," Chigumba said.

Chamisa decried the results as fake, writing on Twitter: “The ZEC scandal of releasing unverified fake results is regrettable”.

If neither candidate had won more than 50% in the presidential poll, a run-off would have been held in September.

“Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams. This is a new beginning,” Mnangagwa said on Twitter after the announcement.

Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF's victories were overshadowed by deadly protests, opposition allegations of rigging and criticism by observers that the contest was flawed.

Before the final announcement, MDC Alliance chairman Morgan Komichi said the results were "fake", claiming that election chiefs had not yet verified the results. Security then escorted him from the stage.

The ruling Zanu-PF was also confirmed to have clinched the majority in the country’s parliament.

In the order they were announced by the ZEC, the number of votes received by Mnangagwa and Chamisa, per province, were:

  • Harare Metropolitan (urban): Mnangagwa 204,710 votes; Chamisa 548,880 votes
  • Masvingo (rural): Mnangagwa 319,073 votes; Chamisa 171,196 votes
  • Mashonaland East (rural): Mnangagwa 334,617 votes; Chamisa 189,024 votes
  • Matabeleland South (rural): Mnangagwa 107,008 votes; Chamisa 90,292 votes
  • Bulawayo Metropolitan (urban): Mnangagwa 60,168 votes; Chamisa 144,107 votes
  • Matabeleland North (rural): Mnangagwa 111,453 votes; Chamisa 137,611 votes
  • Mashonaland Central (rural): Mnangagwa 366,785 votes; Chamisa 97,097 votes
  • Midlands (rural): Mnangagwa 350,754 votes; Chamisa 255,059 votes
  • Manicaland (rural): Mnangagwa 292,938 votes; Chamisa 296,429 votes
  • Mashonaland West (rural): Mnangagwa 312,958 votes; Chamisa  217,732 votes

Tense day

Earlier in the day, soldiers brandishing assault rifles and police shouted at pedestrians and traders to leave central Harare. Troops stood guard at Zanu-PF headquarters on Thursday, while armoured personnel carriers, water cannon trucks and police anti-riot vans took position outside MDC headquarters.

Police obtained a search warrant to look for grenades, firearms, ammunition, computers and stones at the MDC headquarters, and arrested 18 people.

They also secured warrants to search Chamisa’s residence and those of several other opposition leaders.

On Wednesday, six people were killed by soldiers sent in to break up demonstrations claiming the election was rigged. 

While the government warned that further protests would not be tolerated, Mnangagwa also said on Twitter that he wanted an independent investigation into the killings, and that he sought to settle differences “peacefully”.

The post-election violence would erode the international goodwill shown towards Zimbabwe since Mnangagwa replaced Robert Mugabe as president and pledged to hold credible elections, said Christopher McKee, CEO of New York-based risk advisory firm PRS Group.

“It matters little whether this heavy-handed response came on Mnangagwa’s orders,” McKee said in e-mailed comments.

“Evidence that the president lacks the authority to control the security forces will be just as damning in terms of the impact on Zimbabwe’s international rehabilitation. Risks related to military involvement in politics and the quality and responsiveness of political institutions will remain a concern in Zimbabwe.”

With Reuters, AFP and Bloomberg

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa won the country's landmark election on August 3 2018, in an outcome set to fuel fraud allegations as security forces patrolled the streets to prevent protests. Mnangagwa won 50.8 percent of the vote, ahead of Nelson Chamisa of the opposition MDC party on 44.3 percent.

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