By Pumza Fihlani – Harare
Troops have opened fire in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare after opposition supporters went on the rampage. At least one man was shot dead by the army, reports from the scene say. Another was shot and wounded by police. The MDC Alliance alleges the ruling Zanu-PF party has rigged Monday’s presidential and parliamentary vote.
Parliamentary results show the ruling Zanu-PF party heading for a big majority. The presidential result has yet to be declared. European Union poll monitors have expressed concern over the length of time it is taking to declare the presidential result.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged patience and calm following the first elections since long serving ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted from power. The MDC Alliance says its presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa, won Monday’s election. Correspondents stress that Wednesday’s violence is confined to the centre of Harare – an opposition stronghold – while other parts of the country remain calm. Latest reports from the capital suggest the security forces are in control of the streets.
Image captionTroops were deployed to help police clear the streets. Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the army had been deployed in Harare to disperse a violent crowd and to restore “peace and tranquillity”. He added: “The presence of the army is not to intimidate people but to ensure that law and order is maintained. They are there to assist the police.”
‘Chaotic scene of burning tyres’
Army vehicles and police trucks rolled into Zimbabwe’s main city on Wednesday after the wait for the election results took an ugly turn.
MDC Alliance supporters had been gathering in various parts of Harare since the morning, but when news came that Zanu-PF had won the majority of seats in parliament and that the presidential results were not ready, the previously upbeat mood changed.
Opposition supporters went on the rampage down Harare’s busy streets, heading towards an old Zanu-PF office and carrying large stones, sticks and anything else they could grab along the way. The crowd chanted: “We want Chamisa.”
They believe the election has been stolen, and are demanding the MDC be announced as the winner.
Riot police using water cannon and tear gas arrived to a chaotic scene of burning tyres and an unrelenting crowd. There were hundreds of them. They jeered and pelted the police vans with stones.
In another part of the city where more opposition protesters had gathered, the army used whips to disperse them.
Today’s clashes may not have been on the scale of the “days of old”, where intimidation by security police was the order of the day, but it’s certainly not the peace many had been praising until now. Something has changed here.
What results have been declared?
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has announced 122 seats for Zanu-PF so far, and 53 for MDC Alliance, ZBC state media reported. There are 210 seats in the National Assembly’s lower house.
More than five million people were registered to vote, and there was a high turnout of 70%.
State broadcaster ZBC had reported that the electoral commission would announce the presidential results at 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT), but only parliamentary results were read out.
The BBC’s Shingai Nyoka reports that the announcement on the presidential poll was not made because representatives of some of the 23 candidates had failed to turn up to verify the results.
A presidential candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to win outright. Otherwise, a run-off election will be held on 8 September.
What are election observers saying?
The EU mission has criticised the delay in announcing the presidential results. Zec has until Saturday to do so.
Image captionThe electoral commission says 70% of registered voters took part in the election
It said it had observed several problems, including media bias, voter intimidation and mistrust in the electoral commission, adding that there was an “improved political climate, but un-level playing field and lack of trust”.
This is the first time in 16 years that the government has allowed EU and US election monitors into the country.
The African Union mission has said the elections “took place in a very peaceful environment” and “were highly competitive”.
It added that it could not confirm opposition parties’ complaints of vote-buying, intimidation by the state and bias by traditional leaders.
A preliminary report by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) observers said the elections were largely peaceful and conducted in accordance with the law.
What are the parties saying?
Zimbabwe’s main opposition has said Mr Chamisa won the presidential election, sparking street celebrations by supporters on Tuesday.
The MDC Alliance said the ruling Zanu-PF party was attempting to rig the vote to allow President Mnangagwa to win, and the delay in releasing official results was unacceptable.
Image captionMDC Alliance supporters burned election posters of Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa
MDC Alliance’s Tendai Biti said there was a clear attempt by Zanu-PF to interfere “with the people’s will”.
However, Douglas Mwonzora, a top MDC Alliance official, told the BBC’s Andrew Harding that the endorsement on Sunday of their candidate by Mr Mugabe had cost the party votes. He also alleged that the ruling party had bribed voters in rural areas.
A Zanu-PF spokesman dismissed the opposition’s allegations of interference, telling the BBC he had “no clue” what Mr Biti was talking about.
Source BBC News