Newswire : ‘Skullduggery’ foils Zimbabwe inauguration of former Mugabe ally

Mnangagwa supporters rally in streets

Aug. 13, 2018 (GIN) – The hastily organized inauguration of Emmerson Mnangagwa as president of Zimbabwe has hit a brick wall. Invites to the heads of diplomatic mission, international organizations and consulates were pulled back after challenges to last month’s general election put a question mark around the slim victory of Mr. Mnangagwe over his rival Nelson Chamisa. Mr Mnangagwa allegedly beat Mr. Chamisa with 50.8% of the vote to Mr. Chamisa’s 44.3%. The ceremony was slated for Sunday, August 5, at the National Sports Stadium in Harare despite clashes between opposition protestors and soldiers that broke out shortly after polls closed.

Some six people died in the melee, many others were beaten and a number sought refuge in neighboring Zambia. As the post-election violence increased, Mr. Mnangagwa called for “peace and unity” but this failed to unite the nation – at least half of whom had cast ballots for Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In early returns, the MDC was leading by about 50,000 votes over the ruling ZANU-PF. But that lead suddenly evaporated when returns from the fifth out of 10 provinces were announced. Mr. Mnangagwa, who ousted his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, in what was widely described as a “coup”, called the voting a “celebration of Zimbabwean democracy, a festival of unfettered freedom. With the eyes of the world on us we delivered a free, fair and credible election.” “It is now time to put the election period behind us and embrace the future,” Mnangagwa said during Heroes Day commemorations in Harare. “We should never be deterred by temporary setbacks or regrettable events which we encounter in our cause to build an open, free and democratic, prosperous Zimbabwe.” It is now up to the Constitutional Court over the next 14 days to rule on the challenges brought by the MDC. Meanwhile, according to reporters on the ground, hundreds of opposition activists are in hiding from an army-led crackdown. Over the weekend, soldiers were seen moving through suburbs of Harare, the capital, and satellite cities beating supporters of the MDC, firing weapons outside the homes of its MPs and sealing off the homes of leaders’ families. “There are people disappearing. We don’t know how many – maybe 30, maybe 50. They are clearly trying to scatter the leadership, to stop us organizing,” Nkululeko Sibanda, an MDC spokesman, said. As Mnangagwa struggles to unify sparring members of his own party and divisions in the armed forces, he may seem ineffectual but many remember his record as State Security Minister when in 1983 some 20,000 minority Ndebele people were murdered in “a moment of madness”, according to ousted president Mugabe.

Newswire: Two parties declare victory in Zimbabwe’s Presidential poll

Riot police breaking up press conference of Nelson Chamisa

Aug. 6, 2018 (GIN) – “Let us look forward with hope and love. Let bygones be bygones… Let us turn over a new leaf and renew ourselves.” Those were the hopeful words of Emmerson Mnangagwa as he settled into the chair of former president Robert Mugabe last December. Mr. Mugabe was not present, having been removed in a “soft coup” by members of his own party. Now, some six months later, Mr Mnangagwa has been elected to the top job, fair and square according to the nation’s electoral commission, but his soldiers appear not to have gotten the word. Streets in the capital city Harare were battlegrounds with tanks speeding through, guns firing at citizens running for cover and spilt blood staining the ground. Vote tallies were not announced in the days following nationwide polls, opening the way for opposition candidate Nelson Chamisa, reviewing his own tallies, to declare he had clearly won the election and that the official results were “unverified and fake.” A spokesman for Chamisa addressed a press conference: “I make a difference between the president-elect and the president-declared,” said Nkululeko Sibanda, “because we do know that President Chamisa won this election.” No details have been announced on the suit being prepared to challenge the election outcome. Mnangagwa’s victory was endorsed by the African Union and SADC, the Southern African Development Community, South Africa and Zambia, but international observers and human rights groups filed separate assessments of the election’s fairness. The British government said it was deeply concerned by the post-election violence and the “disproportionate response from the security forces.” Amnesty International said more than 60 people were arbitrarily arrested in a “vicious campaign of torture, intimidation and suppression of dissenting voices.” On Monday, 22 members of Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) appeared in court facing charges of inciting violence and causing malicious damage to the ruling ZANU-PF party offices. They must return for bail hearings because it was no little time for the judge to hear their cases. Mnangagwa has said the army’s use of violence in Harare would be investigated independently, although he also suggested he understood the use of military force, saying that police were overwhelmed by opposition protesters. Inauguration of the new president is slated for August 12.