Mnangagwa’s victory and Zimbabwe’s democracy

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On August 1, following the announcement of the parliamentary election results in Zimbabwe, which saw Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF winning a clear majority, opposition MDC Alliance supporters held a demonstration in and around Harare’s central business district, claiming the vote was rigged.

In response, the Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) soldiers fired live ammunition on the protesters, killing six people.

  • Supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party of Nelson Chamisa protest alleged election rigging in Harare, Zimbabwe on August 1, 2018 [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

Mnangagwa, who was declared the winner of the highly contested presidential election a day later, called for calm, peace and unity and promised to establish a commission of inquiry into the deadly electoral violence.

But the newly elected president’s call did not do much to calm tensions on the ground. The ZDF continued to hound opposition supporters in Harare’s townships on Friday evening, in actions reminiscent of the political repression and mayhem former President Robert Mugabe often authorised in order to subdue opposition to his oppressive rule.

Endorsing a sham election

Only a few hours before the start of the deadly post-vote violence, the African Union Electoral Observer Mission to Zimbabwe (AUEOM), the SADC Electoral Observer Mission to Zimbabwe (SEOM) and the COMESA Election Observer Mission, three very important African bodies, had all released individual communiques that endorsed the controversial election process.

While all three African observer missions were quick to give their stamps of approval to the July 30 presidential and parliamentary elections, the COMESA mission, had offered the most gushing words of praise. It said the controversial elections were “generally peaceful, transparent and adhered to national, regional and international standards”.

It is a shame that these eminent regional bodies have chosen to side with the military-backed ZANU-PF leadership. Their endorsement of Zimbabwe’s objectively problematic and unjust election process undoubtedly symbolises the structural, political and electoral ills afflicting African politics.

In contrast to the African bodies, and rightfully so, the EU offered a significantly more sombre assessment of what had transpired in Zimbabwe before the election. It said an “un-level playing field, intimidation of voters and lack of trust in the process undermined the pre-election environment”.

Indeed, despite what African bodies had said, Zimbabwe’s election was a sham, grounded on a military coup and won with the help of illiberal ideas and media-driven distortions and fanaticisms that outrivalled Cambridge Analytica’s efforts during the 2016 US presidential election

Full details on Al Jazeera

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