Harare, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has rejected President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election victory as fraudulent, saying he will pursue legal and constitutional means to challenge the result.
The electoral commission on Friday said Mnangagwa, of the ruling ZANU-PF party, won 50.8 percent of votes in Monday’s presidential poll. Chamisa, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, came in second, at 44.3 percent.
“We are not accepting fake results. We are not accepting this fiction. We want a proper result to be announced,” Chamisa told reporters in the capital, Harare, on Friday.
“We will pursue all means necessary – legal and constitutional – to make sure that we protect the people’s vote,” he added.
The 40-year-old described the electoral body’s declaration of Mnangagwa, 75, as the winner of the first poll since long-term leader Robert Mugabe left office in November 2017 as “regrettable”.
The opposition leader’s press conference was delayed for more than an hour after riot police shouting “clear out” chased reporters who gathered at Harare’s Bronte Hotel.
Mnangagwa, a former spy chief and a ZANU-PF veteran denied the opposition claim that the vote was rigged.
“We won the election freely and fairly, and have nothing to hide or fear. Anyone is free to address the media at any time,” Mnangagwa said.
This is an indispensable part of the new Zimbabwe. It is non-negotiable and will not change.
We won the election freely and fairly, and have nothing to hide or fear. Anyone is free to address the media at any time (2/2)
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) August 3, 2018
Previous elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by intimidation and threats, but Monday’s vote was relatively peaceful.
But things turned violent on Wednesday after Zimbabwe’s electoral commission said the ruling party had won the parliamentary election – also contested on Monday.
ZANU-PF, which has ruled the southern African country since independence in 1980, won a clear majority in the 210-seat parliament by securing 145 seats.
The MDC came in second with 63, while the National Patriotic Front and an independent candidate also picked up one seat each.
Opposition supporters claimed the vote was rigged and took to the streets to protest. At least six demonstrators were killed in clashes with security forces and several others wounded.
Meanwhile, neighbouring South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa congratulated Mnangagwa on his victory and urged Zimbabweans to accept the poll results.
“We urge the people of Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the election, or follow the legal route should they wish to challenge it.” Ramaphosa said on Twitter on Friday.
On Thursday, the United Nations called on both the ruling party and the main opposition to to “exercise restraint” following the landmark poll.
ZANU-PF, which has ruled the southern African country since independence in 1980, also won a clear majority in the 210-seat parliament.
The ruling party won 145 seats, followed by the MDC which took 63. The National Patriotic Front and an independent candidate also picked up one seat each.
Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa