Riots shake Zimbabwe capital Harare as election results delayed

Saul Bowman
August 2, 2018

At least one person was killed in Zimbabwe's capital Harare on Wednesday as soldiers stepped in to disperse stone-throwing opposition supporters who accused the ruling party of trying to rig Monday's presidential election, witnesses said.

Dozens of opposition supporters gathered Tuesday evening at their headquarters in the capital, Harare, celebrating in the belief that they had won the presidential election based on results they said they collected from agents in the field.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said Wednesday that of 210 parliamentary seats, 153 had been counted with ZANU-PF winning 110 and the MDC Alliance 41.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the government is surprised by violence that broke out after the announcement of National Assembly results.

As Zimbabwe awaits the final result of the presidential election, both the MCD Alliance and ZANU-PF are confident of success.

The city centre resembled a war zone, as soldiers drove in their armoured vehicles and indiscriminately fired live ammunition at anyone they found in the central business district, with several passersby caught in the cross fire. "We are now investigating circumstances surrounding the deaths", national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said. We know what's happening here.

Anti-riot police stand guard at gate of Rainbow Towers where election results were announced.

Analysts have said it was unclear whether the country's generals, who ousted Mugabe and ushered Mnangagwa into office, would allow an MDC victory.

Monday's polls - the first since autocratic president Robert Mugabe was forced out by a brief military takeover in November - had been meant to turn the page on years of violence-marred elections and brutal repression of dissent. "Shooting us? This is not an election, it is a disgrace on our country".

"In some senses, up to this point, the conduct of the polls has had a number of positive features", said Elmar Brok, leader of the European Union's observer mission.

"The electoral commission failed to meet the mark in a number of ways and the election failed to meet the mark in a number of ways", said Johnnie Carson, a former USA assistant Secretary of State for Africa, who is part of an observer mission from the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute. "Zimbabwe's main problem is a confidence crisis & these fictitious election results does not alley such fears", added Chimhutu.

Mr. Mnangagwa has said that Zimbabwe needs a bailout from the International Monetary Fund to counter chronic cash shortages and heal an economy in which, according to unions, nine in 10 workers are unemployed. The ZRP also "warned political leaders who have incited their followers into committing acts of violence that the long arm of the law will certainly catch up with them". It called for transparency in the release of results. "We won the popular vote (and) will defend it", Chamisa wrote on Twitter. You voted for total Change in this past election!

The violence started soon after opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa claimed he had won the popular vote.

Nkululeko Sibanda, MDC alliance spokesman, said: "The results are a gimmick to try and prepare Zimbabwe for a rigged election".

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