Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party won the most seats in parliament, official results showed on Wednesday, as the count continued in the presidential race and the opposition MDC cried foul, alleging widespread fraud.
EU observers were due to give their preliminary report on Zimbabwe’s election later on Wednesday, two days after the vote – the first ballot since Robert Mugabe was ousted after 37 years in power.
With elections under Mugabe marred by fraud and often deadly violence, his successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, promised a free and fair vote and invited international observers.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] has announced a further 50 National Assembly results, bringing the total so far to 153. Of the 153, ZANU-PF has won 110 seats, while the MDC Alliance got 41 seats,” ZBC state media reported.
There are 210 seats in the national assembly lower house.
MDC did not immediately respond to the parliamentary results but earlier on Wednesday party leader and presidential contender Nelson Chamisa, 40, said the presidential results were being faked.
“ZEC seeks to . . . reverse the people’s presidential election victory. The strategy is meant to prepare Zim mentally to accept fake presidential results,” he tweeted.
“We won the popular vote and will defend it!”
If no presidential candidate wins at least 50 percent of the ballots cast in the first round, a run-off vote is scheduled for September 8.
On Wednesday, observers from the Southern African Development Community and the African Union will also deliver reports on the polls.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters started celebrating on Tuesday after a senior party official said that the party was sure Chamisa had won and that if he was not declared victorious, it would “announce our own results”.
That apparently prompted Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu to warn that anyone illegally announcing results would “provoke the wrath of the law and risk being sent to jail”.
The electoral commission has warned that results of the presidential first round may not be known until Friday or even Saturday and would not be released until tallies were received from all 10,985 polling stations.
“We are nowhere near where we expected to be, so I can quite see us going into the fifth day which is allowed by law – but we are working flat-out,” commission chairwoman Priscilla Chigumba told journalists in the capital.
Chigumba, a high court judge, has flatly denied allegations of bias and strongly disputed accusations of vote-rigging.
Analysts have said it was unclear whether the country’s generals, who ousted Mugabe and ushered Mnangagwa into office, would allow an MDC victory.
“There is no way that ZANU-PF will accept an MDC victory. We know that people will be beaten – especially in rural areas, like what they were doing before,” said Harare shop worker Tracy Kubara, 26.
Mugabe, 94, who ruled for nearly four decades, voted in Harare alongside his wife Grace.
It followed a surprise press conference at which he stunned observers and called for voters to reject ZANU-PF, his former party.
Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former right-hand man, was the clear election frontrunner, benefitting from tacit military support and control of state resources.
But Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who performed strongly on the campaign trail, sought to tap into the youth and urban vote.
He has repeatedly accused ZANU-PF and election authorities of trying to use a flawed electoral register and fixed ballot papers to steal the election.
Whoever wins will face a mass unemployment crisis and an economy shattered by the Mugabe-era seizure of white-owned farms, the collapse of agriculture, hyperinflation and an exodus of investment.