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British Govt Condemns Zimbabwe Elections

FILE: A woman casts her vote at a primary school in Glen Norah
FILE: A woman casts her vote at a primary school in Glen Norah

The British government says Zimbabwe’s just-ended general elections were not free and fair.

In a statement the Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, said, “We share the view of the Election Observation Missions’ preliminary statements that the pre-election environment and election day fell short of regional and international standards.”

Mitchel said some of the problems included limited transparency from the electoral commission, the lack of level playing field, the passing of repressive legislation, long delays in the opening of some polling stations, and reports of intimidation of voters.

Mitchel noted that “the UK takes note of the announcement by the Chair of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of results on 26 August. However, we are concerned by a lack of transparency in the tallying of results, as well as the arrests of domestic observers. We urge all parties and citizens to continue to follow constitutional processes in the coming weeks, allow space for inclusive dialogue, and act with restraint.”

Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, and information secretary Nick Mangwana were unavailable for comment as they were not responding to calls on their mobile phones.

The African Union, Southern African Development Community, European Union and other organizations too a swipe at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, noting that the elections fell short of normal poll standards.

The Zimbabwean government has reacted angrily to the observer missions’ sharp rebuke of the electoral body, claiming that the elections were free and fair.

ZEC has already passed into the law the election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has started executing state duties.

The largest country’s opposition – the Citizens Coalition for Change led by Nelson Chamisa, is demanding free elections. It described the elections as a “gigantic fraud”.

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa on Thursday threatened to lock up opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activists planning to engage in public protests over the outcome of last week’s disputed elections.

Addressing Zanu PF supporters at the official opening of Sabi Star Lithium Mine, Mnangagwa said, “We are going forward with our development program, we will not stop our development programs because of some little boys. I warn anybody who may want to bring any chaos in this country we are ready. Whoever shall preach hate speech will be responsible for their hate speech our Prisons are not full."

According to the Ministry of Information, Mnangagwa said state security agents are ready for anyone who wants to cause chaos in the country.

He is quoted as saying, “... Those who want to contest do so peacefully. ZANU PF has a DNA of winning. No other party shall govern in this country… Your leadership is endorsed here on earth and in heaven.”

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced Saturday night that Mnangagwa got 52.6% of the total votes cast while opposition CCC interim leader, Nelson Chamisa, amassed 44%.

Chamisa has described the elections as a “gigantic fraud” and called for fresh elections under the supervision of neighboring nations in the Southern African Development Community. CCC is planning a 30-day public push for fresh elections.

A SADC Election Observation Mission also said the elections fell short of local and international standards.

Reacting to Mnangagwa’s threats, CCC interim spokesperson Promise Mkhwanazi said Mnangagwa’s remarks are an indication that he lost the presidential poll.

Mkhwanazi said, “There is no need for Mr. Mnangagwa to issue threats to the people of Zimbabwe if he knows that he truly won the elections. The threats are a clear indication that he did not win the elections and is prepared to use force to stay against the will of the people of Zimbabwe. We are a peaceful and non-violent party.

“We intend to challenge Mr. Mnangagwa's false assertions that he won the elections using peaceful, lawful and non-violent means. We will do everything permissible in a democratic society to reverse Mr. Mnangagwa's false win so that we can have fresh elections under the supervision of SADC and a reformed ZEC.”

VOA's Gibbs Dube contributed to this article