Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader has said he rejects a court ruling upholding the president’s narrow election win and called the inauguration due to take place on Sunday “false”.
Nelson Chamisa spoke a day after the Constitutional Court unanimously rejected the opposition’s claims of vote-rigging in favour of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, saying it did not bring “sufficient and credible evidence”.
Mr Chamisa said “we have the right to peaceful protest” and that other routes will be pursued.
“Change is coming,” he said. “Political doors are going to be opened very soon.”
Last month’s peaceful election was seen as a chance for Zimbabwe to move on from Robert Mugabe’s repressive 37-year-rule. But Mr Chamisa now alleges “a new persecution” after a deadly crackdown on the opposition.
The 40-year-old opposition leader again said he won the election and that the southern African nation needs fundamental reforms that cannot be resolved by five more years of “vacant leadership”.
Mr Mnangagwa, 75, a former Mugabe enforcer who has tried to restyle himself as a reformer, appealed for calm after the court ruling and in a Twitter post he told Mr Chamisa “my door is open and my arms are outstretched”.
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission had declared Mr Mnangagwa the winner of the July 30 ballot with 50.8% of the vote. It later revised it to 50.6%, citing an “error” but arguing it was not significant enough to invalidate the win.
It said Mr Chamisa received 44.3%.
Meanwhile, final reports are pending from dozens of Western election observers invited to the country for the first time in nearly two decades.
They noted few issues on election day but expressed concern over “excessive use of force” that followed. Six people were killed two days after the vote when the military swept into the capital Harare to disperse protests.
Mr Mnangagwa has said an inquiry would begin after his inauguration.
A new statement by the joint mission of the US-based International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute noted the “acts of repression” against the opposition and said it was up to the people of Zimbabwe “to weigh the court’s ruling in light of the overall electoral process to determine the credibility of the election”.
The statement concluded: “Zimbabwe has not yet demonstrated that it has established a tolerant, democratic culture that enables the conduct of elections in which parties are treated equitably and citizens can cast their vote freely.” A final report is yet to come.
- Press Association