Zimbabwe’s Opposition Alleges ‘Gigantic Fraud’ in Vote That Extends the ZANU-PF party’s 43-year rule

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader on Sunday alleged “blatant and gigantic fraud” in the country’s election after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner and international observers reported an atmosphere of intimidation against voters.

The returns from the latest troubled vote in the southern African nation were announced Saturday night, two days earlier than expected. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change party said it would challenge the results as “hastily assembled without proper verification.”

“They stole your voice and vote but never your hope,” Chamisa wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, in his first public reaction to the election’s announced outcome. “It’s a blatant and gigantic fraud.”

People in the country of 15 million were bound to view the results with suspicion but Mnangagwa, 80, dismissed allegations of vote fraud.

“I did not conduct these elections. I think those who feel the race was not run properly know where to go to complain. I am so happy,” he said at a news conference Sunday, adding that the elections were run “transparently, fairly in broad daylight.”

Mnangagwa was reelected for a second and final five-year term with 52.6% of the vote, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Chamisa, 45, who also lost to Mnangagwa in a very close and disputed election five years ago, won 44% of the vote this time, the commission said.

International election observers have noted problems with the election, held Wednesday and Thursday, citing an atmosphere of intimidation against Chamisa’s supporters. In the buildup to the vote, international rights groups reported a crackdown on opposition to Mnangagwa and the long-ruling ZANU-PF party.

“The vote will be challenged, it was fraught with unprecedented illegality,” Chamisa said later Sunday in the capital, Harare. he described the results as “doctored” and “criminal.”

The rights groups said the party, which according to the electoral commission retained its parliamentary majority, had used the police and courts to harass and intimidate opposition officials and supporters.

Before the election, Chamisa alleged in an interview with The Associated Press that his party’s rallies had been broken up by police and his supporters had often been intimidated and threatened with violence.

The actual election was also problematic and voting was extended into an extra day Thursday because of a shortage of ballot papers, especially in the capital and other urban areas that are opposition strongholds. People slept at polling stations to make sure they were able to vote.

Mnangagwa’s victory meant ZANU-PF retained the governmental leadership it has held for all 43 years of Zimbabwe’s history since the nation was re-named following independence from white minority rule in 1980.

“This is a very happy occasion indeed,” said Ziyambi Ziyambi, an election agent for Mnangagwa and a Cabinet minister. “Zimbabweans have shown confidence in our president and ZANU-PF.”

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