Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been re-elected for a second and final term, a result that has been condemned by the opposition and questioned by observers.
Despite the country’s ongoing economic crisis, Mnangagwa, who took over from longtime leader Robert Mugabe in a 2017 army coup, was widely expected to win re-election, with analysts saying the contest was heavily skewed in favour of the ZANU-PF party, which has ruled the country since independence and the end of white minority rule in 1980.
According to official results released late Saturday by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Mnangagwa received 52.6 percent of the vote, compared to 44 percent for his primary challenger, Nelson Chamisa.
“Mnangagwa Emmerson Dambudzo of ZANU-PF party is declared duly elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” ZEC chairwoman Justice Chigumba told journalists.
The elections were hampered by delays, which fueled opposition claims of rigging and voter suppression, but a small group of ruling party supporters welcomed the results on Saturday.
Nevertheless, Promise Mkwananzi, a spokeswoman for Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), stated that the party had not signed the final tally, calling it “false.”
“We cannot accept the results,” he told the AFP news agency, adding the party would soon announce its next move.
The vote was being watched across southern Africa as a test of support for Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF, whose 43-year rule has been battered by its disastrous management of the economy and charges of authoritarianism.
Foreign poll monitors said on Friday that the elections had failed to meet regional and international standards.
The head of the European Union’s observer mission on Friday said the vote took place in a “climate of fear”. Southern African regional bloc SADC’s mission noted issues including voting delays, issues with the voter roll, bans on opposition rallies and biased state media coverage.
“The elections were fraught with irregularities and aggrieved the people of Zimbabwe,” political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said.
“The CCC has good grounds to go to court and challenge the outcome”.
ZANU-PF denies it has an unfair advantage or seeks to influence the outcome of elections through rigging.