ED: ‘I didn’t run this election. I was a participant’

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has rejected charges by the opposition that he rigged his way to victory and said observer missions that criticised the country’s laws ‘overstepped’ their mandate.

Mnangagwa spoke to reporters the morning after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced him the winner with 52.6% of the poll, beating Nelson Chamisa’s 44%. The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change says the election was a fraud, vowing to present evidence showing how Chamisa had been robbed.

Asked to react, Mnangagwa said: “I can assure you that I did not conduct the elections. I competed with them in this race to win the elections. Those who feel the race was not run fairly, should know where to go to complain.”

The poll was criticised by the SADC observer mission, which pointed out delays on voting day and said some parts of the electoral process fell short of standards.

SADC mission head Nevers Mumba said: “The mission observed that the pre-election and voting phases of 23-24 August harmonised election were peaceful and calm. However, the mission noted that some aspects of the harmonised elections fell short of the requirements of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Electoral Act and SADC principles governing democratic elections.”

Mumba also criticised Zimbabwean laws, including a new section of criminal law that punishes Zimbabweans for conniving with foreigners to push for sanctions and foreign military intervention. Activists fear that these laws, widely referred to as the “Patriotic Act”, will be used to stifle free expression and crack down on opponents.

But Mnangagwa says observers should not have an opinion on Zimbabwean laws.

He said: “I’m aware that some observer missions went beyond their call of duty and began interrogation legislation passed by our Parliament. It is my view that every sovereign state passes legislation through their legislature, and Zimbabwe is not an exception.”

According to Mnangagwa, “I don’t think it’s in the mandate of election observers to interrogate institutions of a sovereign government, the judiciary, the legislature, and governance. I believe their mandate is to observe the transparency, peacefulness and conduct of the elections”.