The transition that started with Operation Restore Legacy last November was concluded early yesterday morning when the final results of the Monday election giving Zanu-PF victory were announced.
The ruling party retained its two thirds majority in parliament and its presidential candidate, President Mnangagwa, garnered 51 percent of the vote to avoid a run-off.
The MDC Alliance, a coalition of seven parties — eight rather if we include a faction of the National Patriotic Front that is loyal to former president Mr Robert Mugabe — came a distant second in the parliamentary election although it gave a battling performance in the presidential contest. The ruling party won 145 of the 210 contested seats in Parliament, five more than the two thirds threshold. In the race for the presidency, President Mnangagwa received 2 460 463 votes or 50,8 percent of the votes cast, beating his main rival Mr Nelson Chamisa of MDC Alliance who amassed 2 147 436 votes or 44 percent of the vote. The other 21 candidates shared the remaining five percent — Dr Thokozani Khupe of MDC-T leading that pool with 45 573 votes.
Once again, Zanu-PF was propelled by its rural base and increased its share of urban votes. It got the most votes in six rural provinces — Masvingo, Midlands, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland South but lost marginally in Manicaland, a rural province as well, and by substantial margins in opposition bases — Harare, Bulawayo and Matabeleland North.
“Thank you Zimbabwe!” tweeted President Mnangagwa early yesterday morning after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba declared him the victor. “I am humbled to be elected President of the Second Republic of Zimbabwe. Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams. This is a new beginning. Let us join hands, in peace, unity & love, & together build a new Zimbabwe for all!”
It must be a sweet victory for the President and his party — defeating a coalition of eight parties who were backed by the ex-president who many believed had a following still in Zanu-PF to swing it to the opposition. It indeed must be a sweet success for a man who suffered much public humiliation at the hands of Mr Mugabe in recent years and survived multiple assassination attempts among them poisoning last August and a grenade attack in June.
It is a victory that Zanu-PF needed, and fought so hard to achieve to be able to seal Operation Restore Legacy on a winning note to usher in the Second Republic. The party leadership, from the cell right up to the President himself, traversed the length and breadth of the country campaigning and were justly rewarded.
Zanu-PF ran a superior, well-oiled campaign strengthening from the cell, scaling its mass mobilisation thrust to include focus groups such as business leaders, students, churches, the youths, women as well as the Asian, coloured and white communities and climaxing in mass rallies. Also, it was a glitzy, immersive campaign in which resources were clearly available and put to good use. The party used a wide range of tools, dominating social media where we expected a more youthful Mr Chamisa to lead, selling its manifesto on radio, television, newspapers, outdoor advertising and other platforms.
But a well-resourced campaign minus a message is nothing. With this in mind, President Mnangagwa took every opportunity to explain party policies and programmes, the successes it has scored since November and the challenges faced. Economics — matters of bread and butter — led the discourse and politics — the staple of the Mugabe regime — followed.
Indeed it was a very systematic operation that was destined to end in victory.
On the other hand, Mr Chamisa had a poor campaign, that had no message but was a pack of lies and improbables that was destined to end in defeat.
We are concerned that despite clearly losing, Mr Chamisa is refusing to accept defeat while making inflammatory statements designed to incite a rebellion against the Government. He alleges, without providing any proof, that Zec doctored results to give the ruling party a presidential election victory yet all the 23 contesting parties, including his participated in a verification exercise on Thursday, signed documents authenticating the results before they were released.
Mr Chamisa is taking all of us for fools. We know he has no evidence to back his cheating claims but is trying to cause unnecessary confusion, the same confusion he tried to whip up in the run-up to the elections. We unreservedly denounce his negative campaign.
We urge the millions who voted for President Mnangagwa and his party to enjoy their well deserved victory and not allow sore losers to spoil their moment. They should defend their vote resolutely if circumstances demand that. While at it, law enforcement agencies are urged to firmly deal with anyone — Mr Chamisa himself included — who attempts to overthrow the will of the people who gave Zanu-PF the mandate it worked hard for, thus deserve.