It was supposed to be a grand occasion, but just before the name of Zimbabwe’s new president was announced, the opposition MDC Alliance decided to make its own intervention.
Fighting furious shouts and whistles at a hotel in Harare, the MDC’s chief election agent Morgan Komichi said: “The results are fake, they are not authentic, we reject them.”
The police cleared Mr Komichi from the room and the stage was finally set, after three days of vote counting and controversy, for the head of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to announce a winner.
“I do hereby declare that the votes by Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa are more than half of the votes cast,” said Priscilla Chigumba.
“Therefore Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is duly declared elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, effective August 3rd.”
There were a few cheers at the back but the result was largely expected.
President Mnangagwa, the incumbent, had narrowly avoided a second-round run-off with 50.8% of the vote – while his youthful challenger from the MDC, Nelson Chamisa, had come up short with 44%.
It was a colourful and decidedly chaotic end to the electoral process and it was also fitting – for a national poll that was supposed to free and fair has left the nation bitterly divided.
Mr Mnangagwa tweeted his thanks and said he was humbled to be elected as the second president of the republic.
This long-time member of the old regime deposed the first president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, in a coup last November and the poll now gives him a measure of respectability.
That is not something Mr Chamisa would accept, however, dismissing the election as a “scandal” in comments published online.
The results were “fake and unverified”, he said, warning that the MDC Alliance would challenge them in the courts.
“The level of opaqueness, truth, deficiency, moral decay and values deficit is baffling,” he said.
Civil rights groups and independent NGOs will also have their say over the next few days.
Their personnel have been wading through the result slips – or “V-11 forms” – which were posted at individual polling stations and they aim to hold the electoral commission to account.
There are plenty of inconsistencies and irregularities on offer.
When Ms Chigumba first sat down on Monday to address the press, she stated that voter turnout ranged from 67% to 71% – but it was clear, as we listened to the final results last night, that the number of votes counted was far higher.
Some Zimbabwean provinces recorded turnout figures of more than 90%, while most constituencies reported numbers in the mid-80s.
Then, there is the “V-11” from Gore Village where the ruling ZANU-PF won 452 votes while nobody, from any other party, won a single vote.
Observers from the European Union have given the election organisers decidedly mixed grades, criticising levels of voter intimidation, media bias and lack of confidence in the process.
The EU will keep a team in the country for four weeks as the nation argues over the nature and conduct of this vote.
Clearly, a large section of the Zimbabwean population does not have faith in the electoral process, despite President Mnangagwa’s guarantee of a free and fair election.
Addressing those concerns represents one of the greatest challenges of his presidency.
From – SkyNews