‘We would not want to spoil our own victory’

The MDC Alliance in Zimbabwe says, despite a Constitutional Court ruling that declared President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the winner of the highly disputed July 30 elections, their candidate, Nelson Chamisa, was robbed.

“There was no way we could have sent our people to spoil our own victory on 1 August. We genuinely believe that we won the elections. The behaviour of Zanu PF is not consistent with that of winners,” said Tendai Biti, the national chairman of the alliance.

He was appearing before the Kgalema Motlanthe-led commission of inquiry into the August 1 killings that left at least six people dead when MDC Alliance supporters took to the streets.

Biti’s words would later get backing from losing presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa.

“We won this election emphatically, we [MDC] had a parallel tabulation,” said Chamisa.

He added that the public feared that the election would eventually be stolen and the delay in announcing the tally was reminiscent of 2008.

“The delay was a déjà vu for the people because it has happened before. If Zanu PF had won the election, the results would have been announced on midnight of the same day,” he said.

In 2008, election results were withheld for more than a month, with Morgan Tsvangirai getting 47.9% of the vote, to President Robert Mugabe’s 43.2%. This meant there was no clear majority winner and a violence-riddled run-off ensued, but Tsvangarai pulled out. Later it would emerge the military refused that Mugabe concede defeat.

The MDC Alliance’s allegations of having won the election, whose final tally was 50.8% for Mnangagwa and 44.3% for Chamisa, come a few days after Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said only a Mnangagwa victory would be accepted in future elections.

“In all the coming elections, no one is going to remove Mnangagwa. We are here until he feels it is the time to go and when we have fully restored our country to its former glory and when everything is in order,” said Chiwenga, a retired general.

“Never, ever dream that after so-and-so years it will be your time. There is no vacancy, there is nowhere to get in,” he added.

History of violence

Biti spoke about colonial violence, the violence of the liberation struggle, post-independence brutality and violence in the new millennium as well as the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s.

“1 August doesn’t occur in isolation but is attached to a long heinous history of force, coercion and violence, always used to maintain political power in Zimbabwe,” Biti said.

“This nation has never been at peace since the year 1450,” he added.

Chamisa also reminded one of the commissioners, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, that he too was a victim of state-sponsored violence in 2007, alongside the late Morgan Tsvangirai.

More protests to come

Despite the fracas of 1 August, the MDC Alliance said its supporters would take to the streets as early as Thursday.

“Zimbabweans have a reason to demonstrate, the rights to demonstrate are enshrined in the constitution,” said party secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora.

Last month the Constitutional Court outlawed bans on protests. Speaking before the commission, both Chamisa and Biti said their party would go ahead with protests.

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