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Tension as Zimbabwe opposition rejects ‘fake’ Mnangagwa victory

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Zimbabwe ’ s opposition on Friday rejected what it said were the “ fake ” results of the landmark election in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been declared the winner .Zimbabwe woke to the news that Mnangagwa , a former ally of Robert Mugabe , had won the historic first polls since the autocrat’ s ousting last year with 50 . 8 percent of the vote , according to the electoral commission .

The narrow margin is just enough to avoid a run- off against opposition leader Nelson Chamisa that would have been called if Mnangagwa had won less than 50 percent of the vote .

Chamisa dismissed what he called the election ’ s “ unverified fake results” .

“ ZEC must release proper & verified results endorsed by parties , ” he wrote on Twitter , referring to the Zimbabwe Election Commission.

“ The level of opaqueness , truth deficiency , moral decay & values deficit is baffling . ”

Mnangagwa , who was chosen as Mugabe ’ s successor in the ruling ZANU – PF party after he was removed in a brief military intervention in November , hailed his victory as a “ new beginning ” for Zimbabwe .

“ Though we may have been divided at the polls , we are united in our dreams , ” he said on Twitter .

Opposition allegations of foul play had already sparked a deadly crackdown on protesters in the capital Harare on Wednesday when troops opened fire , killing six .

Soldiers and police had cleared the city centre Thursday as the government vowed not to tolerate any more protests , but on Friday the streets were crowded with their usual traffic and commuters were heading to work as normal .

An army truck and water cannon were however parked outside MDC headquarters .

Celebrations by ZANU – PF supporters were also muted , though in the suburb of Mbare music blared from a car covered with party posters .

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“ This is a new Zimbabwe , we are happy , ” said Tendai Mugadzi , a 32 -year – old IT specialist .

He was not worried that Mnangagwa had won by only the slimmest of margins , adding : “ It just shows that this was a free and fair election . ”

– Fresh start ? –

Analysts EXX Africa said they expected the situation to calm over the next few weeks , with big protests unlikely “ due to the heavy- handed security crackdown in the capital and other cities ” .

“ Despite the mixed response on the elections process from international observers, there is little actual evidence to demonstrate the opposition ’ s claims of mass vote tampering , ” they said in a briefing note .

“ Over the next few weeks , the fall -out over the elections will subside and allow the government to begin to repair its tarnished reputation in order to secure fresh investments and debt relief , ” they predicted .

Since independence from Britain in 1980 , Zimbabwe has known only two presidents — Mugabe , who ruled with an iron fist for 37 years , and his erstwhile right- hand man Mnangagwa , who was appointed after Mugabe was forced out by the military in November last year .

The new president had promised a free and fair vote that would turn the page on years of brutal repression under Mugabe , end Zimbabwe ’ s international isolation and attract foreign investment to revive the shattered economy .

But Chamisa has repeatedly alleged that the vote was rigged , charging that the ZEC — synonymous with fraud under Mugabe — had again helped ZANU – PF to steal an election .

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An MDC spokesman said early Friday that the party was planning to take the outcome to the courts .

– ‘Un – level playing field ’ –

Turnout was high at over 80 percent in most of the country ’ s 10 provinces .

In the parliamentary election , also held on Monday , ZANU – PF won easily .

Before the violence , European Union observers declared they found an “ un -level playing field ” that stacked various factors in ZANU – PF’ s favour, including heavy coverage by state media .

“ It means our suffering will continue , ” Emion Chitsate , a security guard at a shopping centre in the Waterfalls district of Harare , said of the result .

“ It ’ s the same ZANU – PF which brought us to where we are . ”

Under Mugabe ’ s rule , elections were often marred by fraud and deadly violence .

But ZEC chairwoman Priscilla Chigumba , a high court judge , has in recent days flatly rejected allegations of bias and rigging .

Mnangagwa was the clear election front -runner , benefitting from tacit military support and state resources . But Chamisa , a lawyer and pastor, sought to tap into the youth and urban vote .

Mnangagwa was allegedly involved in violence and intimidation during the 2008 elections when then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the run -off after attacks claimed the lives of at least 200 of his supporters .

The president must now tackle mass unemployment and an economy shattered by the Mugabe – backed seizure of white -owned farms, the collapse of agriculture , hyperinflation and an investment exodus .

Previously solid health and education services are in ruins and millions have fled abroad to seek work .

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