Mnangagwa, who assumed leadership following a 2017 army coup that ousted long-time leader Robert Mugabe, was widely anticipated to win re-election despite the nation’s ongoing economic crisis. Analysts believed the election was heavily rigged in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF party, which has governed Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980.
Official results from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) late on Saturday declared Mnangagwa the winner with 52.6 percent of the vote, while his main challenger, Nelson Chamisa, received 44 percent. ZEC reported that the 80-year-old Mnangagwa received over 2.3 million votes, while the 45-year-old Chamisa garnered more than 1.9 million. Mnangagwa’s majority of the votes allowed him to avoid a runoff election, and the voter turnout was 69 percent.
ZEC chairwoman Justice Chigumba announced, “Mnangagwa Emmerson Dambudzo of the ZANU-PF party is declared duly elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.”
However, the election process faced delays that fuelled accusations of rigging and voter suppression from the opposition. Promise Mkwananzi, a spokesperson for Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), stated that the party had not endorsed the final tally, which they deemed false, adding that they would soon reveal their next steps.
This election was closely watched throughout southern Africa as it tested the support for Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF, a party that has faced criticism for its mismanagement of the economy and allegations of authoritarianism during its 43-year rule. Foreign poll monitors indicated that the election did not meet regional and international standards. The European Union’s observer mission head noted a climate of fear, and the Southern African regional bloc SADC’s mission pointed out various issues, including voting delays, problems with the voter roll, bans on opposition rallies, and biased state media coverage.
ZANU-PF denied having an unfair advantage or attempting to influence the election through rigging.
Mnangagwa, often nicknamed “The Crocodile” and previously known as Mugabe’s “enforcer,” outmanoeuvred Mugabe in 2017 amid mass protests. In 2018, he narrowly defeated Chamisa in a contested election that the opposition leader deemed fraudulent, but the constitutional court upheld the results.
During this election, voting was extended to an unprecedented second day due to delays in printing ballot papers in some key districts, including the capital, Harare, which is an opposition stronghold. Chamisa condemned these delays as a form of voter suppression and rigging.
Zimbabwe, formerly a white-ruled British colony known as Rhodesia, gained independence in 1980 after a lengthy guerrilla war and was renamed Zimbabwe. However, under Mugabe’s leadership, the nation’s economy deteriorated, experiencing hyperinflation that wiped out savings and deterred investment. Mnangagwa held several key positions in Mugabe’s government, including minister of state security, minister of justice, and vice president.
The opposition aimed to capitalize on public discontent over corruption, high inflation, unemployment, and entrenched poverty. ZANU-PF also emerged victorious in the parliamentary race, securing 136 out of 210 seats through a first-past-the-post system, compared to 73 seats for the CCC. One seat remained unassigned due to the death of a candidate, and an additional 60 seats were designated for women appointed through a party-list system of proportional representation.