Emotions are high in Zimbabwe is the nation holds its breath in the eve of the announcement of the presidential results following a peaceful voting process which began and ended on Monday this week.
By Monday evening, unofficial results coming from various of the 10 000 polluting stations dotted around the country pointed to an opposition lead with Zanu PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa (75) trailing behind.
Although mixed signals on the actual results in the country were coming out via social media handles, by Tuesday afternoon the word on the street was that Mnangagwa was gaining in on his rival, Nelson Chamisa (40), buoyed by the rural vote.
Social media also went abuzz Tuesday morning when Chamisa, who is leading the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, a contingent of opposition parties, sounded the victory trumpet even before the results’ official announcement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
“Winning resoundingly… We now have results from the majority of the over 10 000 polling stations. We have done exceedingly well. Awaiting Zec to perform their constitutional duty to officially announce the people’s election results and we are ready to form the next government,” said a confident sounding Chamisa on his Twitter handle.
Shortly after this the Zec chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba held a press conference in the capital admonishing political parties and several civic society organisations including ordinary citizens against publication of results ahead of them.
Mnangagwa, who sounded more civil and calm in his unity speech by Monday night also said Zec was the only sanctioned body to announce results.
“I urge all citizens and candidates alike to exercise responsibility and restraint by patiently waiting for ZEC to declare the official outcome. Let us remember that no matter which way we voted, we are all brothers and sisters, and this land belongs to us all,” he said.
Hew opened Tuesday morning with a message to his fans saying that he was delighted by the high turn out ad citizen engagement while information from his party representatives from polling stations were positive.
“Waiting patiently for official results as per the constitution,” he said.
However, as the rumour gathered dust of an impending sweeping victory of the ruling Zanu PF across the rural folk, things took a twist when the Alliance cried foul at an urgent press conference shortly before the time Zec was expected to announce results at 3pm.
“We are aware that people are trying to prevent and stop the people’s will, to interfere with the people’s will. We will not accept that. As we have said before, we will protect this vote.”
“People of Zimbabwe have waited for so long patiently, they have resisted temptations of taking up unlawful, unconstitutional means of achieving change. So I hope that the merchants of chaos and abuse will desist from abusing the people’s will,” said one Alliance top-brass Tendai Biti.
Asked who was telling truth given that both parties were claiming victory, Biti said Mnangagwa was unelectable saying the people had spoken.
He backed up his allegations by the crowds that turned up at rallies and unofficial results streaming via social media and went on to sensationally claim that the outgoing Vice-President was out to assassinate him.
Election mood on Monday
Though widely acknowledged as one of the most peaceful elections in Zimbabwe’s recent electoral history, this plebiscite has see a measure of drama, from registered people disappearing on the voter’s roll to one polling stations blowing up in smoke while others were carefree to shout it out to the world who they voted for at polling stations.
However, what has been remarkable is a historic turn out of which averaged 70% while all polling stations shut down business at 7pm.
The Villager also took time to engage with Zimbabweans who cast their ballot to share their experiences.
Said a young Zimbabwean graduate, Ropafadzo Mukanga, “Being my first time to vote I didn’t know what to expect but when I got there a lot of people were already in the queue and there were police officers assisting people on which queue to join following the alphabetical order. Despite the long queues everyone was excited about voting and everyone looked hopeful for a brighter future, I didn’t even feel the one and half hours I had spent waiting for my turn.”
“I admired the oneness that people had, everyone was talking to every one as if they knew each other from somewhere and I can safely say they did because we were all coming from the same background hoping for change.”
A Bulawayo citizen who identified himself as Robert Shoko said he had failed to vote due to the long queues although he said he would keep checking for a chance.
“Ok, so far general incidents which usually occur especially in Bulawayo where I am based are few but I have heard a lot from other areas. Ward 5 and6 didn't receive ballot papers for councilors and voters were told to vote for MP and president and come vote later but voters refused,” he reported.
Another citizen who refused to be named said: “People are interested to vote; however, some are being turned away. And some have been changed polling stations hence no longer have the zeal to vote as the polling (station will be away. This has happened in Epworth. As a matter of fact, there is no transparency, ZEC has lost our trust.”
Lonias Rozvi who cast his ballot at Mhofu Primary in Highfield East where former president Robert Mugabe also voted described his experience as phenomenal.
“It’s a historic moment for me as a first time voter. Long back election seasons were so dreadful due to violence and police brutality But now we are enjoying this peaceful environment with tolerance. I’m also impressed by the efficiency at the stations, u won’t have to wait for too long.”
“Well so far I’ve seen people expressing themselves through social media. You know how it is when excitement grips in the election euphoria. I’m seeing lots of red fingers to show that someone has voted. Am also seeing pics of candidates on people s statuses n timelines,” he said.
Senior journalist and commentator, Gibson Nyikadzino however cautioned candidates against pushing the victory button too early as it would create an unnecessary air of expectancy which may be frustrated by the actual result.