Long road ahead for ostracized Zimbabwe


ZANU-PF headquarters, Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Bureau
HARARE, (CAJ News) – IF reactions to the worst poll since independence are anything to go by, the road ahead will be a slog for Zimbabwe.

It could prove more catastrophic than the past two decades of internal fallout and international ostracization.

There are even fears of another coup, evoking memories of 2017 when longtime leader, President Robert Mugabe was overthrown and incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa took the reins.

Mnangagwa’s re-election at the just-concluded poll is the latest episode of the downslide, his presidency suffering legitimacy concerns after observer mission from Zimbabwe’s long-time foes and allies alike criticized the elections.

As was the case after the 2018 election Mnangagwa’s main rival, Nelson Chamisa, and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) have rejected the results and all is set for a collision course with the government led by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

This evokes memories of that previous poll when the army shot dead six civilians during opposition protests.

Chamisa could not specify if his party would approach the courts, amid accusation the Zimbabwe judiciary is an appendage of the government.

Courts were the scene of contestations leading up to the elections, with former cabinet minister and expelled ZANU-PF member, Saviour Kasukuwere, barred from contesting as an independent.

“Whether ZANU-PF wants it or not, there is going to be change in Zimbabwe,” Chamisa told supporters.

He vowed they would not wait for the next elections, due in five years.

The opposition leader noted the coup that catapulted Mnangagwa to power, and described the 2018 win by the veteran leader (80) as another coup.

“He has repeated again in 2023. You cannot survive these for far too many times. This time… no further,” Chamisa charged.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) warned of a possibility of coup against Mnangagwa himself after the shambolic exercise.

“This illegitimate election risks breeding conditions for another coup like that of November 2017 through which the then President Mugabe was deposed,” it stated.

“Zimbabwe needs help to manage peaceful election-based transitions. It has not had that transition since Independence in 1980,” CiZC added.

Police are on high alert after the main opposition hinted at protest.

Zimbabwe’s history is littered with running battles between opposition and law enforcers. Critics accuse the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) of targeting opponents of the ruling party.

ZRP said it was aware of plans by some political activists to mobilize the public to stage “popcorn demonstrations” under the guise of citizen voter audit or verification.

“The police will not hesitate to effect arrests on such criminal elements,” Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, national police spokesperson, warned.

Crisis24, the security risk and crisis management consultancy, forecast protests by the opposition and political violence in the short term.

“Heightened tensions are likely nationwide over the coming days,” it forecast.

The think-tank warned violence could further escalate in the event of a legal challenge following the results.

“Officials may impose additional restrictive measures, such as temporary curfews, internet shutdowns, or entry and exit restrictions, to deter violence or in the event of significant unrest.”

The outcome of the flawed electoral process is projected to have an impact across borders, especially in South Africa. Millions of Zimbabweans have fled to that country over the years.

This has not only resulted in a migration crisis but anti-Zimbabwean sentiment as the host country’s economy struggles to create jobs.

“We are about to witness the biggest influx of illegal foreigners from Zimbabwe coming into South Africa,” said opposition leader, Gayton McKenzie.

He is accused of promoting xenophobia, and this past weekend, accused those fleeing of wanting to turn South Africa into “another Zimbabwe.”

“We are tired of illegal foreigners,” McKenzie said.

The latest controversial election has further divided the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

Fikile Mbalula, the ANC Secretary-General, has come under criticism for a flurry of congratulatory messages to Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF, despite the official line by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that elections were flawed.

“I support democracy. We need to support the democratic outcome and stop meddling in Zimbabwe’s affairs by way of seeking to subvert democratic outcomes,” Mbalula retorted.

The DA believes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s silence is an endorsement of the ZANU-PF government’s electoral shambles.

Emma Louise Powell, DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, argued the ANC government’s silence is further hastening South Africa’s decline as a leader on the African continent and a defender of human rights and the rule of law.

She also condemned the attacks by ZANU-PF on the head of the SADC Election Observer Mission, Nevers Mumba.

“If the SADC and South Africa are to retain any remnant of credibility, they must reject these primitive bullying tactics by ZANU-PF and demand an independent review of the election,” Powell said.

At the time of going to press, only Hage Geingob, the president of Namibia, was the only regional leader to congratulate Mnangagwa.

Inna Hengari, the opposition Member of Parliament however said the congratulatory messages only reflected the position of the ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO).

“We apologize on behalf of all law abiding citizens of Namibia, this man did not issue this congratulatory message on our behalf as a country. This is a message from SWAPO to ZANU-PF, not from Namibians to Zimbabweans,” Hengari said.

Mnangagwa responded, “I am deeply humbled by the overwhelming support and joy shared by our people.”

“This victory is a testament to the power of unity and progress. Together, we will continue building a brighter future for Zimbabwe.”

Mnangagwa’s government faces an arduous task taming one of the highest unemployment rates in the world (estimated at 90 percent) and inflation, put at between 150 and 300 percent.

Relations with the international community are forecast to remain tense after observer missions from The Commonwealth and European Union (EU) discredited Zimbabwe’s poll, which had Mnangagwa as the winner with 52,6 percent of the vote and Chamisa with 44 percent.

Academic, Prof. Stephen Chan, believes despite the highly critical report of SADC observers, Chamis’s plea for regional help was unlikely to result in much that is tangible.

“Even a temporary suspension of SADC membership is unlikely,” said Chan, who was deported from Zimbabwe on the eve of the election.

– CAJ News

























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