Zimbabwe election: Three dead in violent Harare protests

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Following the announcement, hundreds of supporters of the main opposition party gathered to protest

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party has won the most seats in parliament, official results showed on Wednesday, as the vote count continued in the presidential race.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) results showed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF cruising to a big majority after picking up 145 seats in a 210-seat parliament.

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The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alliance won 60 seats with results for 2 seats still to be announced, the election body said on Wednesday.

The NPF has won one seat and an independent candidate has won one.

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With this result, ZANU-PF has won a two-thirds majority that would allow it to change the constitution at will.

Nick Mangwana, ZANU-PF spokesman, said the party was happy with the results.

“We are very happy with the results. So far, it shows that the people of Zimbabwe have entrusted ZANU-PF to lead them and we will do our best to meet the people’s wishes in the constituencies that elected us,” Mangwana told Al Jazeera.

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The opposition alliance said the vote was rigged in favour of the party that has been in power since the southern African country gained independence in 1980.

‘Cooked figures’
“The results are a gimmick to try and prepare Zimbabwe for a rigged election. If President Chamisa wins this election then the people of Zimbabwe will have their government,” Nkululeko Sibanda, MDC alliance spokesman, told Al Jazeera.

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At the opposition party headquarters, the mood was tense as hundreds of supporters gathered outside – their anger directed at what they said was foul play by ZANU-PF.

“The results are not a true reflection of the people who voted on the polling day. These are cooked figures they are not the real figures,” Samson Chikazhe, told Al Jazeera, anger palpable in his voice.

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“I am not happy because at the polling station where I voted most of the people were voting for MDC alliance but if you see the results of the constituency it does not reflect the will of the people. We are not going to accept defeat,” Chikazhe, 28, added.

Standing a few feet away from Chikazhe, Eveson Matambanadzo said the results were unacceptable.

Hundreds have gathered in the streets of Harare to protest the results

“The results we have are cooked if you compare the people who voted on the ground to the results that are there it doesn’t tally,” Matambanadzo told Al Jazeera.

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As the crowd swelled, the police brought reinforcement with one police truck and several water cannon trucks kept a watchful eye but did not interfere.

Many of the protesters tried to get into the National Results Centre in the capital city.

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Outside the ruling party headquarters, there was no sign of supporters or heavy presence of security service.

Meanwhile, ZANU-PF denied the opposition accusation of manipulating the vote.

“There was no rigging and the opposition will come to realise this once emotions settle down. This was a free expression of the people’s will,” Mangwana, the ZANU-PF spokesman, said.

Pedzisai Ruhanya, a Harare-based political analyst with Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said the results released so far could be a reflection of the will of the people but were not perfect.

“It seems the results so far could indicate the will of the people, especially the rural population, to be ruled by ZANU-PF,” Ruhanya told Al Jazeera.

“But there are serious issues with the conduct of the election by ZEC and these need to be sorted out if this election is meant to ensure a smooth democratic transition for Zimbabwe or else there will be distrust and discontent among the urban people,” Ruhanya said.

Monday’s vote was Zimbabwe’s first election since long-term President Robert Mugabe was pushed out of office last year.

Rural votes
After the announcement, it will be crucial to see if the opposition parties will accept the results.

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There have been threats of protests and the opposition parties have said they will release their own set of results.

Earlier in the day, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa tweeted that he had “won”.

The opposition leader said on Tuesday that he was “winning resoundingly” – a claim denied by the Electoral Commission.

A presidential runoff will be held on September 8 if a candidate does not secure more than 50 percent of the vote, but it will probably take a couple of days before the results of the presidential election have come in.

More than five million Zimbabweans registered to take part in the poll. The Electoral Commission said 1.3 percent of registered voters could not cast their vote because they presented the wrong documents at polling stations.

Previous elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by intimidation and threats, but campaigning this time has been relatively peaceful.

Elections observers from the European Union and the United States have also been allowed to monitor the vote for the first time since 2002.

Twenty-three candidates, 19 men and four women, contested for the presidency – all first-time contenders.

Al Jazeera

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