Zimbabwe Ruling Party Set to Win Vote Criticized by Observers

Zimbabwe’s ruling party was on track Saturday for a resounding win in this week’s election, which observers said was badly flawed.

(Bloomberg) — Zimbabwe’s ruling party was on track Saturday for a resounding win in this week’s election, which observers said was badly flawed. 

The Zimbabwe African Union-Patriotic Front retained control of most rural areas while the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change prevailed in Harare, the capital, Bulawayo, the second-largest city, and other urban centers, results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission show. 

The outcome of the presidential vote, which the incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa is widely expected to win, has yet to be announced. 

Wednesday’s election was extended by a day in some areas because the process was dogged by delays. An unofficial collation of the preliminary results by the state broadcaster showed Zanu-PF winning 127 seats in the 210-seat National Assembly and the CCC 67, with the remaining seats still to be called. The state-owned Herald newspaper said Zanu-PF won by a landslide but its tallies were slightly different.   

“The electoral process thus far did not meet many regional and international standards,” the US embassy in Harare said in a statement. 

The embassy echoed concerns raised by observers from the European Union, the Southern African Development Community and the UK embassy about the transparency, independence, fairness, and credibility of the electoral process, including undue restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly and reports of voter intimidation.

Winning a tainted vote may derail efforts by Mnangagwa to restructure the nation’s $18 billion of debt arrears. Creditors, including the African Development Bank, have warned that any deal would be contingent on a credible contest.

Read more: Odds Stacked Against Zimbabwe Opposition as Election Nears 

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi rejected comments by the SADC monitors that the vote had fallen short of set standards.

“Election observers were not invited to come and rewrite our laws,” he said. “Observers are there to follow whether our processes are within the confines of our laws.” 

Zanu-PF has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from the UK in 1980, while Mnangagwa has held power since longtime ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted in a 2017 coup. The country has lurched from one economic crisis to the next, government services have almost completely collapsed, unemployment is rampant and every previous election since 2000 has been marred by allegations of violence, intimidation and rigging.  

–With assistance from Desmond Kumbuka and Neil Munshi.

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