by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
PRETORIA – ZIMBABWEAN opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, has come under criticism in neighbouring South Africa for alleged complicity in the deadly tensions characterising his country after general elections whose outcome he is disputing.
The criticism came during a one-day seminar held in the capital Pretoria, attended by African diplomats, academics, human rights activists and civil society leaders, to analyse the just-ended harmonised elections.
It came days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa, of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), garnered 50,8 percent of the vote, ahead of Chamisa, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, who secured 44,3 percent.
While voting proceeded peacefully for the first time in many years, the killing of at least six people when the military opened fire on protesters in Harare during the announcement of the results of the parliamentary poll marred the exercise.
University of South Africa (UNISA) Professor of African Political Sciences Kealeboga Maphunye, suggested Chamisa was complicit in the crisis by breaking the election code of conduct as he announced himself the winner before the election body Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) would make an announcement.
Chamisa also accused ZEC of rigging the watershed in favour of ZANU-PF, which won 145 parliamentary seats against MDC-Alliance’s 63.
Maphuye thus urged Chamisa, who is seeking legal redress, must exercise patience and tolerance.
“Even if he loses the disputed election in court, the good thing is that age (40) is on his side,” Maphunye said.
He was speaking at the Human Science Research Council’s Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) seminar.
Several other speakers, including International Crisis Group senior consultant for southern Africa, Piers Pigou, and Ford Foundation’s Otto Saki, noted the Zimbabwe elections’ pre-campaign, during and post-election saying the environment was peaceful but was marred by the killing of six protesters.
Civil society officials maintained the run-up to elections including the voting period was peaceful but raised concern over the alleged use food to influence villagers to vote mostly for the ruling party.
Human rights groups lamented the ongoing crackdowns against MDC Alliance supporters after the protests that left properties damaged.
However, the Zimbabwe Ambassador to South Africa, David Douglas Hamadziripi, denied any crackdown against the opposition activists.
“It’s no secret that the police [Zimbabwe Republic Police) wanted Mr Biti to come and cooperate with investigations that are underway. It is very well and easy to make an individual appear to be a victim, without also acknowledging that they have a responsibility to bear, in the events that have taken place,” said Hamadziripi.
He added: “Mr Biti was wanted by the police, and we believe the due processes of law will follow. There has been members of the MDC-Alliance who were arrested, they were taken to court, and the court made a decision.”
The ambassador said law and order in the country should be observed and respected by all law abiding citizens irregardless of political affiliation.
He defended the ZANU-PF government, saying Mnangagwa was consistent in preaching peace and unity during the election campaign as well as immediately after the polls.
“MDC’s Chamisa was preaching hate language and inciting violence,” Hamadziripi said.
– CAJ News