Zimbabwe Elections Remain in Doubt

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Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Leader Nelson Chamisa has launched a case in court that they would challenge the ruling party’s election victory, which it says was due to fraud. Although previous elections held in Zimbabwe were said to be mired by fraud under former president Robert Mugabe the narrow win by president Emmerson Mnangagwa was certainly surrounded by a lot of legal irregularities as found by EU observers involved in the electoral process. The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) has long been firmly in the grasp of the government’s tentacles.

Such a case would put a damper on the legitimacy of Mnangagwa’s government, as threatened by MDC lawyer Thabani Mpofu who told the press outside court: “The election results made by the ZEC (Zimbabwean Electoral Commission) will be challenged”. Depending on the outcome, many will doubt Mnangagwa’s interests in restoring democracy and investors will be nervous about whether the stocks on the country’s markets will be worth investing in. Sanctions remain in place and the country is heavily in depth.

Members of Zimbabwe’s MDC opposition party. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

“Those results represent a total negation of the will of the people,” MDC lawyer Thabane Mpofu told reporters. “The election results made by the ZEC will be challenged.”

Mpofu declined to give the date of when the legal case will be lodged, which is set to delay Mnangagwa’s inauguration. Under Zimbabwean law, the deadline for the challenge was on Friday. The Constitutional Court must rule on the petition within 14 days. “Evidence derives from ZEC’s figures that in our views grossly mathematically fail to tally,” said Mpofu.

“We have what we required for the purposes not just of mounting a credible and sustainable challenge, but that will yield a vacation of the entire process announced by ZEC. “We are convinced once this has been places before a court, there will only be one outcome.”

President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa

Democracy remains illusive in Zimbabwe. Harare and other urban centers for the educated class and the youth remain the territory of the opposition. The rural areas are the domain of Zanu-PF, along the lines of organized criminal gangs that included the police and other security forces. Mnangagwa has always been known as the Crocodile for his shrewd and tactical maneuvering in politics. The petition will have to be signed soon, if the plan of the MDC is to delay president Mnangagwa’s inauguration then this could be taken as a sign they do not trust him to take Zimbabwe the right course in to the future. If the outcome as Mpofu is for ZANU-PF to yield power to the MDC and Chamisa then that may not be. There would certainly be more blood shed.

This would certainly cast a bad light on Zimbabwe’s politics.

Zimbabwe’s fortunes look better now, but it will remain beholden to foreign lenders led by China, who are owed billions in cash sent to prop up the economy. It seems the West led by the United States after agreeing to remove sanctions on the incumbent, are eager to return and partake of Zimbabwe’s vast mineral wealth. Descendants of the British settlers, who ended up taking most of Zimbabwe’s arable land have kept a semblance of an economy running and are looking for new security from Zanu-PF. Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s reneging of the land compensation deal in 1983, was the cause of this problem. Class and ethnic politics were also on display. In Zimbabwe’s dark days of war between ZANU and ZAPU, the contest was framed between the majority Shona mostly ZANU, and minority Ndebele, who were mostly ZAPU.

The US may have second thoughts about investing in Zimbabwe if the election results turn out to be fraudulent.

China of course has much to be concerned depending on how the billions they are owed will be paid if sanctions remain in place. The continued dispute over the land expropriation without compensation that was carried out during the 1990s under Mugabe’s rule has still left a sour taste in the mouths of the victims. Ethnic clashes are the most worrisome issue that will plague a Mnangagwa presidency given his former role as defense minister in the Ndebele massacre. There’s a massive gap between the wealthy political class of Zanu-PF members and the poor of the urban and rural has affected the ethnic minorities like the Ndebele.

Indeed, unless Zimbabwe’s political impasse is sorted out the country will never be able to go forward in to a bright future. Mnangagwa still has his old genocidal past to contend with, that could be political fodder for Chamisa as he calls for an annulment of the vote.