Sunday , August 19 2018
Breaking News

Zimbabwe election: International bodies, others call for restraint

A government crackdown in Zimbabwe after Monday’s elections has prompted international calls for restraint.

The UN and former colonial power, the UK, both expressed concern about the violence, in which three people were killed after troops opened fire.

Parliamentary results gave victory to the ruling Zanu-PF party in the first vote since the removal of former ruler Robert Mugabe.

But the opposition says Zanu-PF rigged the election.

The result of the presidential election has yet to be declared.

The MDC opposition alliance insists its candidate, Nelson Chamisa, beat the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Zimbabwe’s politicians to exercise restraint, while UK foreign office minister, Harriett Baldwin, said she was “deeply concerned” by the violence.

The US embassy in Harare on Twitter urged the army to “use restraint,” saying the country had an “historic opportunity” for a brighter future.

Human rights group Amnesty International meanwhile called on the government to open a probe into the army’s actions.

Amnesty’s Acting Secretary General, Colm O Cuanachain, said in a press release that the “militarisation” of the election aftermath was “muzzling freedom of expression, association and assembly.”

“People must be guaranteed their right to protest,” he said.

The country’s electoral commission said that Zanu-PF had won a two-thirds majority in parliament – prompting protests in the capital, Harare.

Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu said the government would not tolerate the protests.

The opposition “are testing our resolve,” he said, “and I think they are making a big mistake.”

A spokesman for Mr. Chamisa condemned the deployment of soldiers and the subsequent loss of life.

“Soldiers are trained to kill during war. Are civilians enemies of the state?” He asked.

“There is no explanation whatsoever for the brutality that we saw today.”

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has so far announced victory in 140 seats for Zanu-PF, with 58 for the MDC Alliance, ZBC state media reported.

There are 210 seats in the National Assembly’s lower house.

More than five million people were registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 70%.

ZBC had reported that the electoral commission would announce the presidential results at 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT) on Wednesday, but only parliamentary results were read out.

Reports said that the announcement on the presidential poll was not made because representatives of some of the 23 candidates had failed to turn up to verify the results.

A presidential candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to win outright, otherwise, a run-off election will be held on 8 September.

The EU mission criticised the delay in announcing the presidential results.

ZEC has until Saturday to do so.

It said it had observed several problems, including media bias, voter intimidation and mistrust in the electoral commission, adding that there was an “improved political climate, but un-level playing field and lack of trust.”

The African Union mission has said the elections “took place in a very peaceful environment” and “were highly competitive.”

It added that it could not confirm opposition parties’ complaints of vote-buying, intimidation by the state and bias by traditional leaders.

A preliminary report by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) observers said the elections were largely peaceful and conducted in accordance with the law.

 

About Lanre Oyetade

A multiple award winner in Economics and business journalism, Lanre Oyetade has served close to two decades in the media industry, spanning different notable stables, where he is privileged to have risen to the position of a title editor. A masters degree holder in Economics from the University of Lagos and doctoral student at the Babcock University, he is a winner of the prestigious NMMA Capital Market Award for two consecutive years (2004 & 2005), and was also a nominee for the body’s banking and finance and money market awards for two years. In 2013, he also won the Most Outstanding Business-Reporting Title Editor award of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN). A minister in the LORDS’s vineyard, he has been an inspirational speaker and resource person at many corporate and religious fora since early 2004, and has so far authored three books on the capital market; on personal effectiveness, and on personal finance, in 2008 and 2014, respectively.