Ruling party candidate and incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa has won Zimbabwe’s presidential election, the country’s electoral commission announced in the early hours, local time, of Aug. 3.
President Mnangagwa won in six out of ten provinces, giving him the 50% plus one needed to become president. Officially, Mnangagwa won 50.7%, versus Nelson Chamisa’s 44.3%, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
After an election that was dubbed historic because former president Robert Mugabe was not on the ballot, his party maintained its nearly four-decade control of the country. Mnangagwa’s win came after Zanu-PF won the majority of seats in parliament on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
In a televised announcement, the ZEC read the results of nine out of ten provinces, then adjourned for an hour. Moments before they returned with the result, a man claiming to speak for the opposition took to the stage to say that proper processes were not followed when verifying the results. He was soon removed by security, not before another woman called him a sore loser.
As expected, Chamisa dominated in urban areas, especially in the capital Harare and Zimbabwe’s second largest city Bulawayo, where the 40-year-old lawyer got more than double the votes Mnangagwa did. Yet, Mnangagwa seems to have used the incumbency of the last few months to consolidate support in traditional Zanu-PF strongholds and provinces that could have swung the vote.
Just a few hours earlier, Chamisa called a press conference in which he claimed the electoral commission has known the result of the presidential election since Monday, and were simply stalling. A confident-sounding Chamisa was convinced that he had won the election, and said he would announce his results with evidence of rigging after the official announcement.
In their own press conference a Zanu-PF spokesperson said they would congratulate Chamisa in the highly unlikely event that he won, laughing at the prospect in the televised briefing. The ruling party blamed the opposition for violence, after an MDC march challenging the electoral commission turned violent, leaving six people dead in the opposition’s stronghold of Harare.
In the days before the result was announced, the capital was tense. Chamisa said police raided is party headquarters, while police ensured that the city center was nearly empty. The military, credited with removing Mugabe, made their presence felt. With reports circulating on social media that the military and police squads were deployed in suburbs to quell any potential uprisings, central Harare resembled a deserted wartime city.