Zimbabwe’s ruling party wins majority

HARARE: Protests in Zimbabwe’s historic elections turned bloody on Wednesday as a man was shot dead during demonstrations over alleged vote fraud and President Emmerson Mnangagwa appealed for calm.
The man died after soldiers fired live ammunition during opposition protests in downtown Harare.
The polls — the first since autocratic president Robert Mugabe was forced out by a brief military takeover in November — had offered Zimbabwe the chance of turning the page on a brutal chapter of its past.
But the mood quickly descended into anger and chaos as supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition declared they had been cheated.
“You said you were better than Mugabe — you are the picture of Mugabe,” shouted one young male protester wearing a white T-shirt. “We need security for the people.”
Official results showed that the ruling ZANU-PF party had easily won the most seats in the parliamentary ballot — strengthening Mnangagwa’s prospects of holding onto power in the key presidential vote.
MDC supporters burnt tyres and pulled down street signs as protests spread from the party headquarters in hARARE.
“Now is the time for responsibility and above all, peace,” wrote Mnangagwa on his verified Twitter account.
“At this crucial time, I call on everyone to desist from provocative declarations and statements.”
European Union observers on Wednesday listed several problems in Zimbabwe’s presidential and parliamentary election, including voter intimidation and mistrust in the electoral commission, as the main opposition leader accused the ruling party of trying to rig the result.
The observers also questioned delays in releasing the results of the presidential contest in Zimbabwe’s first election since Robert Mugabe was forced to resign following a de facto coup in November after nearly 40 years in power.
The EU’s assessment is critical in determining whether Zimbabwe can shed its pariah status as it could help attract investors and trigger an economic revival.
Mugabe’s successor Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling ZANU-PF and Nelson Chamisa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were the main contenders in Monday’s election.
The EU’s Chief Observer, Elmar Brok, said he did not yet know if the shortcomings would have a material effect on the outcome of the vote, and he criticised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for being at times “one-sided”. The EU did not understand why the release of the presidential result was taking so long, he said.
“The longer it lasts that the results of the presidential election is not known, the more lack of credibility it provides,” Brok said.
“I would like to ask for as fast as possible the release of the presidential election,” he said. “The presidential results were counted first in the polling stations therefore I have still to learn why it will be published last.”
The electoral commission had said it would start announcing results for the presidential race from 10.30 GMT, but this was delayed as commissioners read out more parliamentary results.
With three seats yet to be declared, ZANU-PF had 144 seats compared to 61 for the MDC, meaning the ruling party achieved a two-thirds majority which would allow it to change the constitution at will.
Opposition leader Chamisa accused the ZANU-PF of trying to steal the election.
He accused the commission of releasing the parliamentary results first to prepare Zimbabweans for a Mnangagwa victory.
“The strategy is meant to prepare Zimbabwe mentally to accept fake presidential results. We’ve more votes than ED (Emmerson Dambudzo).We won the popular vote (and) will defend it,” Chamisa said on Twitter.
In an indication of the growing tension, a crowd of about 100 MDC supporters gathered outside a Harare hotel where election results were being announced, but police blocked the entrance to the building, a Reuters witness said.
“You can’t rig our election… this is a military government”, the crowd shouted.
The situation was under control as police secured the area.
African observer groups said the vote was peaceful, orderly and largely in line with the law, but they raised concerns about bias of state media and the commission.
They also called for improvements in the counting procedure, saying the vote represented “a political watershed in Zimbabwe’s history.” — Agencies