HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been declared the winner of the 2023 presidential election, securing a second term in office amid allegations of fraud and irregularities by the opposition.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced on Saturday that Mnangagwa, 80, of the ruling Zanu-PF party, had garnered 52.6 percent of the votes, while his main challenger, Nelson Chamisa, 45, of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), had received 44 percent.
The announcement came after a tense and prolonged wait for the results, which were delayed by several court challenges and printing issues with the ballot papers. The ZEC said it had invited all the presidential candidates and their agents to witness the collation of the results, but some of them did not show up.
Chamisa and his party have rejected the outcome, claiming that they had evidence of widespread rigging and manipulation of the vote. They accused the ZEC of being biased and working in cahoots with Zanu-PF to deny them victory.
“We have won this election emphatically. We have the people’s mandate. We have the people’s support. We have the people’s endorsement. We have the people’s victory,” Chamisa said in a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, shortly before the official announcement .
He added that he would challenge the result in court and called on his supporters to remain peaceful and vigilant .
Mnangagwa, who came to power in 2017 after leading a military coup that ousted long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, congratulated himself and his party for winning a “free, fair and credible” election. He also appealed for unity and calm in the country, which has been plagued by economic woes and political unrest .
“I am humbled by your trust in me to lead our great nation into a new era of peace, prosperity and development. I pledge to be a president for all Zimbabweans, regardless of your political affiliation, tribe or creed,” he said in a televised address.
He also extended an olive branch to Chamisa and other opposition leaders, saying he was ready to work with them for the sake of national progress.
The election was only the second since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 without Mugabe on the ballot. It was seen as a crucial test for the country’s fledgling democracy and its prospects for economic recovery.
However, the election was marred by violence, intimidation and repression of dissent. At least six people were killed and dozens injured when security forces opened fire on protesters who took to the streets on Wednesday to demand the release of the results.
The crackdown drew condemnation from local and international observers, who also raised concerns about the credibility and transparency of the electoral process. The European Union, the African Union, the United Nations and several countries urged all parties to respect the rule of law and resolve any disputes peacefully through legal channels.
Zimbabwe faces a host of challenges, including a staggering inflation rate of 175.8 percent, a severe currency crisis, a massive debt burden, widespread poverty and unemployment, and a deteriorating health system.
Mnangagwa has promised to implement reforms and attract foreign investment to revive the economy, but he has also faced criticism for failing to deliver on his pledges and for continuing Mugabe’s legacy of authoritarianism and corruption.
Chamisa has vowed to bring change and hope to Zimbabweans, but he has also been accused of being inexperienced and divisive.
The election outcome is likely to deepen the political polarization and social unrest in Zimbabwe, unless both sides can find a way to dialogue and compromise for the sake of national stability.