Zimbabwe’s President Hails ‘Mature Democracy’ After Disputed Re-Election

A man is grabbed by citizens after disrupting the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi during a press conference in Harare, Zimbabwe on August 26, 2023 as the country awaits for the presidential and legislative elections results. (Photo by Zinyange Auntony / AFP)

President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared Zimbabwe a “mature democracy” on Sunday after being re-elected for a second term, despite the opposition’s rejection of the outcome of a poll that international observers said fell short of democratic standards.

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According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Mnangagwa, 80, received 52.6 percent of the votes cast, compared to 44 percent for his primary challenger, Nelson Chamisa, 45.

“We have demonstrated that we are a mature democracy,” the president said, praising a high turnout. “We take pride in the fact that we are an independent and sovereign nation.”

Zimbabweans voted Wednesday and Thursday for president and parliament in polling marred by delays that sparked opposition accusations of rigging and voter suppression.

Promise Mkwananzi, a spokesman for Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), said the party did not sign the final tally, which he described as “false”.

“We cannot accept the results,” he told AFP, saying the party would soon announce its next move.

The poll has been closely followed across Southern Africa as a litmus test for Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party, whose 43-year rule has been marked by a stagnant economy and accusations of tyranny.

Foreign observers declared on Friday that the elections did not meet regional and international norms.


Observer missions from the European Union, the Commonwealth, and the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) raised several concerns, including the prohibition on opposition demonstrations, problems with voter registration rolls, skewed official media coverage, and voter intimidation.

That did not stop Mnangagwa from thanking “various election observation missions who have been witnessing our electoral processes without bias”.

“As a sovereign state, we continue to call on all our guests to respect our national institutions,” he said.

But for political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya, “The elections were fraught with irregularities and aggrieved the people of Zimbabwe.”

“The CCC has good grounds to go to court and challenge the outcome”.

ZEC chairwoman Justice Chigumba said Mnangagwa had garnered more than 2.3 million votes, and Chamisa more than 1.9 million.

By securing more than half the votes cast, the president avoided a run-off. Voter turnout was 69 percent, the commission said.


Mnangagwa, dubbed “The Crocodile,” came to power in 2017 following a coup that toppled former President Robert Mugabe.

A year later, he narrowly defeated Chamisa for the first time in a poll that the opposition leader called fraudulent and was followed by a murderous crackdown.

Because to delays in printing ballot papers in certain crucial districts, notably the opposition stronghold of Harare, voting was forced to extend into an unusual second day this week.

Chamisa condemned the delays as “a clear case of voter suppression, a classic case of Stone-Age… rigging”.

Rhodesia, a white-ruled British colony, broke away from London in 1965, winning independence in 1980 after a protracted guerrilla war, and was renamed Zimbabwe.

However, under Mugabe, the fledgling democracy devolved into authoritarian dictatorship and economic deterioration, with hyperinflation wiping out savings and discouraging investment.

The opposition intended to capitalize on widespread dissatisfaction with corruption, rising prices, unemployment, and entrenched poverty.

However, ZANU-PF was declared the winner of the parliamentary election, with 136 of the 210 seats up for grabs under a first-past-the-post system, compared to 73 for the CCC. Due to the death of a candidate, one seat was not given.

Another 60 are reserved for women appointed through a party-list system of proportional representation.

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