Late Morgan Tsvangirai close ally and founding member of the MDC-T, Mr Eddie Cross, has dismissed claims that Zanu-PF rigged the July 30, 2018 harmonised elections using the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a position that places him at loggerheads with alliance presidential candidate Mr Nelson Chamisa.
Mr Cross also said any legal challenge to President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory would be short-lived because the President wanted to win a free and fair election to break with the controversies that dogged the Mugabe era.
The MDC-Alliance has rejected the election results in which President Mnangagwa narrowly beat Mr Chamisa after controversially garnering 50,8 percent against the coalition leader’s 44,3 percent.
The ruling Zanu-PF won 145 National Assembly seats against the MDC-Alliance’s 63 seats.
NPF got one and the other was grabbed by Mr Temba Mliswa, who ran as an independent candidate for Norton.
In an article he posted online, Mr Cross was blunt that the MDC-Alliance lost and that the challenge President Mnangagwa now faced was to turn around the economy and to unite the country.
He said President Mnangagwa had been properly elected, adding this was the most democratic election since independence in 1980.
Mr Cross laid the blame for any anomalies on the MDC-Alliance for failing to field polling agents.
He also blamed the international community for failing to support the MDC-Alliance.
“One of my criticisms of the international community in these elections was that they failed to support the polling agent system. In all previous elections we had significant assistance with this aspect – training for agents, provision of materials and food and a small per diem. This time nothing,” said Mr Cross.
“The problem with such a situation is that when it comes to reporting the results, the ZEC has no choice but to accept the results from each command centre. These returns cover the election of councillors, Members of Parliament and the President,” said Mr Cross.
He added: “So it is that when it was announced that Zanu had won 68 percent of the parliamentary seats, there was no real outcry. The results were accepted because they had been agreed at the command centres by all candidates and their representatives. MDC increased their tally from 49 (2013) to 64, leaving Zanu with a narrow two thirds majority.”
Mr Cross’s assessment of the poll outcome is consistent with that of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which has already endorsed the hotly fought elections. A few observer missions also declared election day peaceful and only deplored the post-election violence instigated by the MDC-Alliance which left six people dead after soldiers opened live fire on protesters.
Mr Cross said the Presidential ballot was only different in that the 23 chief election agents for the 23 Presidential candidates had to be satisfied (at the National Command Centre) that all the constituency returns were properly completed and signed by their agents.
“But once complete, the tallying took place and in the end, 4 days after poll itself, the results were announced – Mnangagwa with 50,8 precent and Chamisa just over 44,3 percent. The rest the anticipated 5 percent. The Constitution says 50 percent plus one vote, so the new President of Zimbabwe, now properly elected, is Mnangagwa,” added Mr Cross.
“The outcry that followed is understandable because in the past the ZEC has been totally partisan and in 2008 when Morgan Tsvangirai won by a clear majority, they spent five weeks trying to falsify the results with no success because the tallying system at the constituency level held sway,” he said.
Mr Cross said under the Robert Mugabe regime the ballot was falsified . . . They “simply falsified the ballot and burned the papers afterwards”.
“Had they done their job properly Morgan would have been our President for the past 10 years and what a different country this would have been,” he said.
“In this case, Zanu recognised that they had to have an election that was credible and that could not be challenged. It was a huge risk for them because they knew that they carried the baggage of 37 years of Mugabe dictatorship and a deeply divided party at all levels,” said the Alliance politician.
“It was the President who took the decision to proceed despite the risk and the end result was an election campaign that was open and free to all contestants,” said Mr Cross.
He, however, said Zanu had ample resources while the MDC-Alliance had none “until late in the campaign”.
“Zanu had total control of the media and used it, they also controlled the access to State resources and used that on a huge scale. But they did not attempt to falsify the results when they came in and survived by the skin of their teeth,” said Mr Cross, adding, “ Because the constituency results are not, by and large, contested, the Presidential ballot will stand up to challenge and I am sure that this has been done. Any legal challenge should therefore be short-lived.”
He said President Mnangagwa must now unite the country.
“The BIG challenge facing Emmerson Mnangagwa is now to unite the country under his leadership and heal the wounds of past battles,” said Mr Cross.
He said President Mnangagwa must also unite his Zanu-PF party left by Mr Mugabe heavily factionalised.
“He also has to heal the wounds in his own party Zanu- PF, which has been torn apart by the internal conflicts of the past five years. Only once he has done all of that can he turn to the future and here he faces equally daunting problems – the huge fiscal deficit, the bloated civil service, the corrupt cartels and individuals that infest the whole State system, the broken local government system and collapsed agriculture,” said Mr Cross.
“However, the most important aspect at this stage is how the 46 observer missions view the final outcome. The new Government needs legitimacy and international recognition to make progress in tackling its Mugabe legacy problems. At this moment I think he will get just that, with serious reservations, but it should be enough.”