Shootings in Zimbabwe taint election credibility- Analyst

As the peace that preceded the historic election in Zimbabwe got stolen yesterday when uniformed forces shot live bullets at unarmed civilians who protested what they called a fictitious election result, a local political analyst has said this has tainted the entire process which was supposed to have come out as free and fair. 

Police in armored vehicles and soldiers descended into the capital, Harare, yesterday in an attempt to restore order before things turned out ugly with protestors pelting stones, burning cars and pulling off Emerson Mnangagwa’s campaign posters.

Rage has gripped the country with citizens questioning if at all there was a need to use such brutal force when the police could have done a smooth job.

All this comes at the back of a Zanu PF leadership seeking for legitimacy after it   rose to the helm of the country’s leadership with a military backed coup that ousted the country’s long time iron man, Robert Mugabe.

The sudden wave of violence has also eclipsed Mnangagwa’s call for peace and tolerance before and during the elections and his Facebook posts show a man who is at pains to separate himself from the Capital’s ugly scenes.

“The most important thing for us now is to move beyond yesterday’s tragic events, and to move forward, together. I am therefore calling for an independent investigation into what occurred in Harare yesterday. We believe in transparency and accountability, and those responsible should be identified and brought to justice,” he wrote. 

Speaking to The Villager, Ndumbah Kamwanya said far from projecting the picture of a rebranded and transformed leader and party, these events demonstrate the contrary.

“The opposition were reacting to news that Zanu PF have won. When you are declared as the winner you don’t send soldiers on the streets with live ammunition. What they could have done was to send soldiers in the streets to restrain the people and not to shoot to kill.”

“Even if Zanu PF wins legitimately it’s going to be a stain on that record. It’s supposed to be a good record but with the killing it is stained. It raises questions, why is Mnangagwa sending troops in the streets to shoot?” he said.

As Namibian President Hage Geingob ascends the SADC chairperson seat this month, the analyst said he has a heavy task on his hands to ensure lasting peace in Zimbabwe given these tumults which are springing from a contested poll.

He has to demonstrate that as far as SADC is concerned, it’s not going to be business as usual, said Kamwanya. 

“It makes things complicated for him because it is the turn for him to see what to do as a SADC chairman. I don’t know if he has said anything but I think he should be on top of issues now and counsel Mnangagwa now that the approach of sending soldiers in the streets is not in accordance with democratic values.”

“Major organisations like the US embassy and the UN have already issued statements and I am yet to hear from the SADC chairperson. This is his baby, I think Mnangagwa will listen to him more than outsiders,” he said. 

Kamwanya said that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is taking time to announce the presidential election result is fueling tension among citizens although he warned that fake news are also playing their part in misleading people. 

International relations and cooperation minister Netumbo-Nandi Ndaitwah came out to say that allegations that results were being deliberately delayed to rig elections “appear to be groundless in law”.

“The Electoral Act of Zimbabwe requires that the ZEC officials and the chief polling agents of political parties must collate and verify the election results for each of the 10985 polling stations. The Chief Election Agents of all 23 presidential candidates at the verification centers have admitted that the verification process is laborious and time consuming. Furthermore, the law allows that election results should be announced not later than five days after voting.”

“The Government of Namibia therefore, condemns resort to violent protest and damage of property. The government further regrets the loss of life and sends sincere condolences to the bereaved families. We call on all the political players in Zimbabwe to excise maximum restraint and to uphold the laws of the country.  The Government of Namibia notes with satisfaction that the election observers representing SADC, African Union (AU) and COMESA found the electoral process in Zimbabwe to have been free, peaceful and transparent,” she said.  

Meanwhile, by yesterday afternoon, the opposition alliance’s presidential hopeful, 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa was on cameras visiting the injured and consoling those that lost their loved ones.

As he was doing so, the Zimbabwean police were also nocking at his party headquarters, at Harvest house in armored gear. 

Unverified reports from within were that some of the opposition’s top-guns had been picked up by law authorities for questioning while the police came out to directly call Tendai Biti, a long time MDC hardliner “to assist police with investigations.”

Mnangagwa also indicated that he was reaching out to Chamisa in order to calm the situation while he called on all leaders to lead by example.

“We have been in communication with Nelson Chamisa to discuss how to immediately diffuse the situation, and we must maintain this dialogue in order to protect the peace we hold dear. Together we must lead by example and show all Zimbabweans that peace is paramount. This land is home to all of us, and we will sink or swim together,” said the incumbent president.

 photo credit: Citizen Digital