As the post-election chaos continues to simmer, President Emmerson Mnangagwa moved to calm the waters yesterday by reaching out to Zimbabwe’s main opposition — calling on the MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to join hands with him to move the country forward.
At the same time, Chamisa insisted that he had won the hotly-disputed July 30 presidential poll — whose results he claimed had been fiddled with by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
Addressing a media conference at State House in Harare yesterday, Mnangagwa said it was important for the nation to focus on the advances that it had made since November last year when he took over from former leader Robert Mugabe.
“The violence of the last few days must be condemned loudly. It is incumbent upon us all to focus on the positive steps our country has made in spite of that tragic setback.
“We cannot allow the violent actions of the few to detract from the democratic expression of the many. To Nelson Chamisa, I want to say you have a crucial role to play in Zimbabwe’s present and in its future.
“Let us both call for peace and unity in our land, call for both louder than ever. That is the role of leaders. That is our joint responsibility even though discharged and fulfilled differently,” he said.
“To all Zimbabweans, let me say that although we were divided at the polls, we are now united in the aftermath of the democratic process, indeed in our dreams and in our aspirations.
“Though some will inevitably be disappointed with the outcome, I urge everyone to be calm and peaceful and to look forward,” Mnangagwa added in an address which was televised live on ZBC.
“I am proud and humbled to have been elected to be your president. I pledge to be the president of all Zimbabweans, a president of those that voted for me and those who did not.
“For both must be made to belong, and to participate in national processes. Now is the time for us to come together as one to work as one people sharing one dream, one destiny.
“Whoever you voted for, now begins the time to join hands for us to forge a better future,” he said further.
Meanwhile, Chamisa insisted yesterday that he had defeated Mnangagwa in Monday’s presidential poll, saying that he had scored 56 percent according to the MDC’s parallel election tabulation — and not the official 44 percent that Zec had announced.
“Mnangagwa did not win this election. The election was won by the MDC Alliance candidate. We won that election emphatically.
“We have a tally of the votes which we are ready to give to those who want to see and we are also prepared to give it to Zec … but it is not prepared to listen to us,” he said.
“We must say that we won this election and we are already preparing to form the next government subject to the processes that we are going to pursue in terms of protecting the will of the people.
“We would like to advise Mnangagwa that if he is a man of integrity let him honour his pledge for a free and fair election and refuse to accept a fake result.
“He must be honest and sincere and must be prepared to give way to the new order,” Chamisa added.
The MDC Alliance leader also said that he would engage current Sadc chairperson and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as other regional leaders, in a bid to persuade all of them to mediate in the country’s current political problems.
“I am in the process of engaging President Ramaphosa to give him our perspective on the situation and to ask him to intervene … this situation is very serious.
“Zimbabwe has not known peace for the past 38 years, Zimbabwe has not known justice. Zimbabweans have not known the happiness and dignity for the past 38 years and we want Sadc to intervene. We are back to where we were in 2008.
“This cannot be the behaviour of people who have won, it can only be the behaviour of those who have lost, and that is why we would like to underscore that leaders of the MDC Alliance for the past two, three days have been subjected to all forms of persecution, intimidation and harassment,” Chamisa added.
Earlier in the day, the opposition leader’s press conference had suffered a false start after riot police stormed a local hotel where it was being held and ordered the gathered journalists to leave, without giving reasons — a move that Chamisa later said was indicative of both the divisions in Zanu PF and the crisis facing the country.
It took the timely intervention of Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo to stem a further inflammation of the current chaos, after he ordered the police to allow the press conference to proceed.
Monday’s elections were the first since 1980 to be held in the country without Mugabe’s participation, whose 37-year, iron-fisted rule was dramatically ended by a military operation late last year which triggered events that ended with his resignation.
The elections also marked the first time that the main opposition MDC was not represented by its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost his brave battle with cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day this year.
Zanu PF retained its two third parliamentary majority in Monday’s elections.
But the peaceful campaigns and a camaraderie spirit that had characterised the run-up to the July 30 elections were sullied on Wednesday by deadly clashes between opposition supporters and security agents.
Six people subsequently died when the army which had been called in to assist in managing the situation used live ammunition to break the ugly protests.