Zimbabweans headed to the polls for their very first election without Robert Mugabe on the 30th of July. Over 5 million people queued at numerous voting stations to decide on the nation’s future. This historic vote saw a high turnout of first time voters, most of them being under 35.
The two main candidates who were vying to lead the Southern African country were President Emmerson “the crocodile” Mnangagwa of ZANU-PF and Nelson Chamisa who is the leader of MDC alliance. Mnangagwa is a former soldier and Mugabe enforcer whilst Chamisa is a lawyer and pastor.
Mugabe’s 37 year authoritarian rule was ended when he was ousted by a bloodless military coup last year. He had led the country since it became independent from Britain in 1980.
The 94-year-old broke his months of silence on the eve of the elections with a media conference. He endorsed Chamisa, stating that he was a better candidate. He also voiced his opinions on the elections. ” I cannot vote for those who tormented me. I hope the choice of voting tomorrow will thrust away the military government and bring us back the constitutionality,” he stated.
The former president’s successor Mnangagwa released a statement in response to the media conference. He claimed that Mugabe had made a deal with opposition leader Chamisa. “We can no longer believe that his intentions are to transform Zimbabwe and rebuild our nation. The choice is clear, you either vote for Mugabe under the guise of Chamisa or you vote for a new Zimbabwe under my leadership and ZANU-PF,” he said.
These were thought to be the first Zimbabwean elections that were free of violence. Previous ones under Mugabe’s presidency were often filled with conspiracies, bloodshed and accusations of rigging.
A number of international observers stated that voting was smooth in some areas and relatively chaotic in others.
The results were set to be released on Saturday, 4 August but Western observers urged the country to release them as quickly as possible because a delay in the announcement could mean volatility.
The post-election euphoria was quickly replaced by violence and bloodshed. Protests erupted in Harare on Wednesday afternoon over alleged electoral fraud. MDC alliance supporters took to the streets to protest the announcement of the National Assembly polls.
Chaos ensued when the military and other security forces descended on the protest with armoured vehicles and water cannons. Civilians scattered and took cover as the soldiers indiscriminately fired live bullets into the crowd. At least 6 people were killed and a dozen more injured.
This was the first time the military was on the streets of Harare since the removal of Mugabe. “Those same tankers we celebrated last year in November are being used against us,” said a protester.
Nick Mangwana, a ZANU-PF official tweeted, “The security forces have to quickly assert the rule of law. Those who are inciting the people are not democrats. They are anarchists whose pre-occupation is power at any cost.” Authorities said the soldiers would remain in Harare the, “situation” is over.
On Thursday the Zimbabwe’s Police Commissioner imposed the Protection of Order and Security Act (POSA). With this police officers can stop anyone on the streets and question them. Upon encounter they can search any person they deem suspicious or who may be inciting a protest.
After a tumultuous week, things came to a head with the announcement of the Presidential elections. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials announced the results from its 9 provinces with the exception of one province which had outstanding results. They then took a break to await the finalization province’s polls.
During this hiatus, a man who claimed to be a representative of MDC alliance got on stage and addressed the press. He stated that the party rejects these results and that they are fraudulent. He was escorted off the room by security guards.
Shortly after this incident the ZEC entered to announce the last results. ZEC Chairperson, Justice Chigumba did the honours. She revealed that Emmerson Mnangagwa had emerged victorious with 2,460,463 votes over Nelson Chamisa’s 2,147,663. Zanu-PF remains the ruling party of Zimbabwe and it’s leader Mnangagwa will be the nation’s president for the next 5 years. Now there is speculation of scandal afoot – with Emmerson actually having 2.6 Million votes, and Mnangagwa with 2 Million.
Seeing how Ethiopia is shaking things up for the better with their new young 42-year-old Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, many people have been calling for younger leaders to step up and take office.
What do you think, would younger people make for better office and less corruption? or does experience in politics still play a major role in becoming president? (I’m looking at you Trump)