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Zimbabwe: Early Results Trickle in for Tense Election

Early parliamentary results showed a narrow lead for the ruling ZANU-PF party. However, observers said voting delays and other issues meant the election did not live up to democratic standards.

Voters in Zimbabwe braced for a close election on Friday after the first results trickled in, showing the ruling ZANU-PF with a narrow lead over the opposition in the parliamentary vote.

Results announced so far by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission showed ZANU-PF winning 43 parliamentary constituencies out of 210 single-member seats.

The main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), was reported to have won in 37 constituencies.

Results for the presidential race are not expected for several more days.

Election observers have pointed to delays at polling stations and a ban on political rallies as evidence that the vote did not meet democratic standards.

Ruling party and opposition both claim success

The election is being watched closely across the region as a test of support for President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ZANU-PF party.

Mnangagwa deposed late ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017, but a moribund economy and charges of authoritarianism have marred the party’s 43-year grip on power.

Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper claimed that ZANU-PF took an “early poll lead” on Friday, while opposition leader Nelson Chamisa also claimed a “decisive win” on social media.

The electoral authority has asked people to be patient and wait for official results.

Election ‘fell short’ of democratic standards

Observers from the Southern Africa Development Community said voting delays, the banning of rallies and biased state media coverage meant that the election fell short of democratic standards.

“Some aspects of the harmonized election fell short of the requirements of the constitution of Zimbabwe, the electoral act and the SADC principals and guidelines governing democratic elections,” said the head of the delegation, Nevers Mumba.

However, the observers said the situation on the ground was nevertheless “peaceful and calm” in the lead-up to the vote.

On Wednesday night, police arrested 41 election observers working for local pro-democracy NGOs and confiscated their computers and mobile phones. Police accused them of “unlawfully” tabulating results from polling stations.

On Friday, police brought them to Harare in the back of an open truck to appear before a magistrate.

Observers from the African Union, the Commonwealth, and the European Union also monitored the elections.

“At this stage, it’s all pointing towards a disputed election,” said Kealeboga Maphunye, an African studies professor at the University of South Africa, in an online debate organized Friday by the South Africa-based Southern African Liaison Office.

zc/jcg (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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