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‘Scared’ Zimbabweans ‘expect worse things to come’ after Mnangagwa re-election

todayAugust 27, 2023 7

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‘Scared’ Zimbabweans ‘expect worse things to come’ after Mnangagwa re-election

As Emmerson Mnangagwa thanked his opponents, the Zimbabwean people and the country’s churches after his second presidential election win, some of Harare’s residents prayed for a changed outcome.

Not at the Sunday congregations of their usual churches but in the safety of their homes – fearful of the police deployed across the streets of the capital and the threat of a crackdown.

“Today I didn’t go to church,” Dorcas, a Harare resident tells Sky News. “We were scared since the announcement of the results and unsure of what is going to happen given the presence of the police in the neighbourhood.

“So I just thought we would pray for our country at home. We are praying for a better future, a changed outcome and for court cases to be heard by people who are wise.”

While Mr Mnangagwa‘s main opponent Nelson Chamisa has publicly denounced the election results calling them “a blatant and gigantic fraud”, and is expected to share the opposition’s next course of action, any legal recourse is unlikely to bear fruit.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa casts his vote

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Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa called the election results a ‘gigantic fraud’

Not only is there no precedent of an overturned election outcome in the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe, but the rule of law has increasingly become a tool of repression.

After a day of disappointment for disenfranchised urban voters unable to cast their ballots because of closed polling stations or a lack of voter materials, the Zimbabwean authorities arrested 39 election monitors and raided their office on the evening of polling day.

The employees and volunteers of the Zimbabwe Election Network and the Election Reporting Centre were charged and released on bail.

Armed riot police on the streets of Harare ahead of Zimbabwe's election result. Pic: AP

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Armed riot police on the streets of Harare ahead of Zimbabwe’s election result. Pic: AP

“They have been charged with violating section 66 of the electoral act of purportedly announcing election results – which they did not do,” said Kumbirai Mafunda, the spokesman for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which is representing the civic society group. They are still expected to appear in court to face their charges.

“Our concern lies in the targeted harassment, intimidation and disruption of legitimate election observation,” Mr Mafunda added.

“These are organisations who have in the past played a critical role in the observation of Zimbabwe’s elections – we cannot wake up and suddenly label them as subversive.”

Not only can these labels be dished out by the authorities but they can also be easily enshrined in law.

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Armed police outside Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission building in Harare. Pic: AP

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Officers outside Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission building in Harare. Pic: AP

Legal pathways to crush dissent have ensured Mr Mnangagwa’s hold on power – a fate not only written in the stars but in the subtext of Zimbabwe’s controversial “Patriotic Bill” passed in the weeks leading up to the election.

The bill criminalises acts seen to be damaging to the sovereignty and national interests of Zimbabwe – dangerously vague provisions that are punishable by loss of citizenship, denial of the right to vote and even the death penalty.

Critics have called the legislation a symptom of tyranny and a sign that Mr Mnangagwa has outdone his predecessor Robert Mugabe’s dictatorial ways.

“I don’t expect anything from him but I do expect worse things to come for my fellow countrymen,” says disappointed voter Chief Svosve, who is using a pseudonym for his safety.

“We are being governed by a regime that tramples on citizens.”

Written by: Newsroom

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