Zimbabwe’s first major political test post-Mugabe has ended in victory for the establishment.
The country’s constitutional court confirmed Emmerson Mnangagwa as president today (Aug. 24) after the results of recent elections were challenged by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe’s main opposition party. MDC’s primary candidate, Nelson Chamisa, lost the presidential vote by a small margin in the July 30 elections, getting 44.3% of the vote compared to Mnangagwa’s 50.8%, according to official results. MDC cited in its challenge “gross mathematical errors” by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in its vote counting.
The court ruled against MDC and Chamisa on the basis of a lack of evidence. The ruling follows a tumultuous few weeks since Zimbabwe’s first election after longtime president Robert Mugabe was ousted from office in a bloodless coup by the military last November. The election was marred by opposition allegations that Zanu-PF, which has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, had engaged in vote rigging. Post-election protests against the results were heavily countered by Zimbabwe’s military—an ominous fixture in previous elections—with live rounds fired and civilians beaten, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum. At least three people were killed.
Zimbabwe’s electoral troubles have contrasted strongly with Mnangagwa’s assurances to the public and the international community that, after decades of suppression, Zimbabwe has a new, more democratic political climate, and is “open for business.”