ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula — who remained in Harare after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s low-key inauguration on Monday — says it’s extremely unlikely there will be fresh polls in Zimbabwe following the 80-year-old’s controversial re-election last month.
After meeting Obert Mpofu, his Zanu-PF counterpart at the ruling party’s headquarters on Tuesday, 5 September, Mbalula said the probability of fresh polls being held in Zimbabwe was next to nothing despite the diplomatic offensive embarked on by the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party led by Nelson Chamisa.
Chamisa disputed the presidential election results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, declaring Mnangagwa the winner with 52.6% against Chamisa’s 44%.
While regional and international monitors who observed Zimbabwe’s elections, including from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union, European Union, the US’s Carter Center and the Commonwealth, among other bodies, discredited the polls in their preliminary reports, Mbalula said Zimbabwe was a sovereign state that determined its destiny.
“International observers have no mandate to cause the invalidation of polls, but whatever they would have raised will be used to perfect future elections,” Mbalula said.
Following Mnangagwa’s inauguration, Mpofu said the Mnangagwa administration was now getting down to work and was thankful for the ANC’s support.
The inauguration was snubbed by several African leaders, including SADC chairperson, Angolan President João Lourenço, and the regional bloc’s chairperson of the Troika Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, after Chamisa abandoned the legal route — citing judicial capture — to stop the inauguration of the Zanu-PF leader.
“We appreciate the support that is coming from the ANC. These are our all-time friends. As Zanu-PF, we take it that elections are over and we are now focused on developing our country,” Mpofu said.
CCC to continue diplomatic efforts
Mbalula and Mpofu’s remarks flew in the face of claims from Chamisa, who has dispatched envoys to regional leaders to seek diplomatic support for his call for fresh elections after describing the 23 August polls as a “gigantic fraud”.
CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said his party, after abandoning plans to mount a legal challenge, would continue on its diplomatic offensive in its quest to set aside Mnangagwa’s re-election.
“We will continue to pile political and diplomatic pressure until our vote counts,” Mkwananzi said.
Meanwhile, prominent Zimbabwean lawyer Chris Mhike says fresh polls are practically and constitutionally possible should the opposition’s diplomatic offensive yield the desired results.
“The circumstances envisaged for early elections under our Constitution include resignation or removal from office, in the case of the office of the president. A vote of no confidence in government by the Senate and National Assembly under section 109 of the Constitution, could also usher in fresh elections before the expiry of the five-year stretch.”
Mhike said although the chances of reversing the outcome of Zimbabwe’s polls through international pressure were doubtful following Mnangagwa’s inauguration, there was certainly some value in the opposition’s investment of energy and effort in diplomatic channels.
“The desire by progressive elements within government, for local as well as global legitimacy, could sway the executive arm of the state towards a restart through a fresh general election in the near future,” he said.
ANC in ‘delicate engagements’
Meanwhile, the ANC, whose president, Cyril Ramaphosa, stands accused by Zimbabwe’s opposition and activists of prematurely endorsing Mnangagwa’s victory, has blocked a public lecture to discuss the elections that was set to be led by a top Zimbabwean academic, Ibbo Mandaza, in Johannesburg on Thursday.
In a letter written by Mbalula to the principal of the OR Tambo School of Leadership, the ANC said it was involved in “delicate engagements” over the political situation in Zimbabwe following the disputed polls.
“At the moment the leadership of the ANC is engaged in a number of delicate engagements regarding the situation in Zimbabwe. In this context, a public lecture, at this time, on what is clearly an ANC platform, would complicate these initiatives.
“It is in this context that we have requested that the lecture should not proceed on Thursday 7 September 2023. We invite you to engage with us further on the detail of these matters, and the possibility of the lecture being held in future, in a different format, and on a different platform,” Mbalula wrote.
Immediately after receiving Mbalula’s letter, the OR School of Leadership announced that the public lecture had been postponed due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
Mandaza had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. Daily Marverick