Opposition Hail “President Chamisa” In Post-Election Crisis

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Nelson Chamisa holds a press conference at the MDC headquarters in Harare, on July 17, 2018, over the security of the ballot paper and credibility of the voters roll ahead of general elections on July 30. Chamisa said his party will write to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene to resolve the stalemate with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

HARARE – Nelson Chamisa, Zimbabwe’s opposition challenger for president who narrowly lost to incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa, has shown no signs of retreating from his threat to use legal recourse to challenge the election results.

Chamisa has disputed the official election result after the July 30 poll, under which Mnangagwa won the presidency with 50.8% of the vote and Chamisa received 44.3%.

On Wednesday, before the final results were announced, supporters of Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change took to the streets to protest what they said was a rigged election. The government responded by deploying armoured vehicles and firing live rounds. Six people were killed.

The MDC’s deputy chief of staff was among 22 people who appeared in court on Saturday in connection with the post-election violence. All suspects were remanded in custody ahead of a hearing on Monday, the MDC wrote on Twitter.

“We want them released without any conditions or on bail, there is nothing linking them to the commission of any offence,” said Gift Mtisi of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Chamisa’s party also took to Twitter to affirm it was taking legal steps to contest the results.

“President Nelson Chamisa today met with all the MDC Alliance parliamentary candidates at Morgan Tsvangirai House in Harare,” the party wrote. “He said the party is taking all the legal processes to ensure that the people’s victory is protected.”

The high-stakes election was Zimbabwe’s first in almost four decades without autocrat Robert Mugabe on the ballot.

Foreign election observers – allowed into the country to monitor the poll for the first time in years – gave mixed reviews of the vote prior to the crackdown. Observers said it was mainly a free election while noting an uneven playing field.

“It’s now time to work together and get back to business,” Mnangagwa wrote Saturday on Twitter.