Chamisa: Let the will of the people be respected

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was inaugurated on Sunday, after his was confirmed by the country’s constitutional court on Friday.

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa addresses the press on the Zimbabwe elections. Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has accused the electoral commission of lacking independence.

Chamisa is stinging from his party’s defeat at the polls.

“The first problem we must resolve in order for this country to move forward, is to return to legitimacy. Let the election be respected and let the will of the people be respected.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was inaugurated on Sunday. His election was confirmed by the country’s constitutional court on Friday.

Thousands of people, some bussed in from outside the capital, and foreign leaders were gathered at the country’s national stadium to witness the swearing-in of Mnangagwa, who just secured the 50% of votes he needed to avoid a runoff against Chamisa.

The election was touted as a crucial step toward shedding the pariah reputation Zimbabwe gained under Mnangagwa’s predecessor Robert Mugabe and securing international donor funding to revive a crippled economy.

But hours before Mnangagwa’s inauguration, the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute said the country lacked a “tolerant democratic culture” in which political parties were treated equally and citizens allowed to vote freely.

The election was marred by procedural lapses and followed by an army crackdown against opposition supporters, undermining promises that Mnangagwa made during campaigning to break with the corruption and mismanagement that become endemic under Mugabe.

The crackdown, which left six people dead on 1 August, recalled the heavy-handed security tactics that marked the 37-year rule of Mugabe, who was removed in a coup in November.

The US observers also urged “all sides to rely on peaceful expression and to avoid acts or threats of retribution against political rivals following the Constitutional Court’s decision.”

Washington has maintained travel and financial sanctions on senior ruling party officials, including Mnangagwa, as well as some state-owned firms. Washington’s support is key if Zimbabwe is to get any funding from the International Monetary Fund.

The European Union, meanwhile, has progressively removed sanctions and they only remain in place on Mugabe and his wife Grace.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)