The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said it would announce the presidential election results within five days of the last polling day, which was Thursday, 24 August.
Voting was extended after some polling stations failed to open due to a lack of ballot papers ZEC warned people against announcing results because “violators of this electoral practice risk legal consequences.”
Early parliamentary results in Zimbabwe showed the ruling party and the main opposition neck and neck on Friday, after an election in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF party was widely expected to maintain its 43-year grip on power.
Presidential results have yet to be announced after Wednesday’s vote, which was extended into Thursday in some neighbourhoods due to late printing of ballot papers.
Mnangagwa, 80, is seeking re-election at a time when the southern African country is grappling with soaring inflation and high unemployment, with many Zimbabweans reliant on dollar remittances from relatives abroad to make ends meet.
His main challenger is 45-year-old lawyer and pastor Nelson Chamisa.
Zimbabwe’s chances of resolving a debt crisis and obtaining World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans are at stake, as foreign lenders have said a free and fair vote is a pre-condition for any meaningful talks.
The government and the electoral commission have promised a clean election, but some political analysts have said it is likely to be heavily skewed in Mnangagwa’s favour, based on his party’s history of using state institutions to manipulate results.
Police sealed off roads around the election results centre on Friday morning, and members of the public were being stopped for questioning, a Reuters reporter in the capital Harare said.
ZANU-PF secretary for finance Patrick Chinamasa told reporters late on Thursday that the ruling party was on course to achieve a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.
However, results announced so far by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission showed Zanu PF winning 38 parliamentary constituencies and the main opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) winning 32, out of a total of 210 single-member constituencies.
The early results showed Zanu PF retaining its rural base, while the CCC captured the urban vote, as has been the case in previous elections.
In the highest-profile loss yet for the ruling party, the electoral commission said on Friday that Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube had lost his parliamentary contest to a CCC challenger.
Results from the presidential election are expected within five days of voting.
Zanu PF’s Chinamasa said the party was “on target” to achieve 60-65% for President Mnangagwa, and dismissed Chamisa’s claim that he was leading in the polls as “day-dreaming”.
Mnangagwa took over from longtime strongman Robert Mugabe after a 2017 coup and won a disputed election in 2018.
CCC, Zanu PF claim victory
Zanu PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change on Thursday traded claims that they were on course for victory following Wednesday’s general elections.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had only announced results for less than half of all the National Assembly races, with the presidential election due by Monday at the latest.
The CCC picked up four new seats in the National Assembly in Matabeleland North, two seats in Matabeleland South and one in Bulawayo but was set to lose Chipinge South to Zanu PF.
Zanu PF claimed it was on course for a two thirds majority in the National Assembly, but CCC dismissed the claims as “unfounded.”
Zanu PF secretary for finance Patrick Chinamasa told a news conference in Harare: “Now we’ve these results, (and) I want to say on the basis of what we have, we’re on full target with our projections.
“We’re on full target to achieve a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly; already we are there. We’re also on target to achieve 60 to 65 percent for our president in this election. That’s what we set out to achieve. So, I’m grateful to the electorate; that this has in fact been achieved.”
CCC’s newly-appointed spokesman Promise Mkwananzi, who spoke before Chinamasa, said: “We’re leading in the presidential election, comfortably, and doing well in the parliamentary elections.”
Nelson Chamisa, the CCC leader, earlier tweeted: “It’s a decisive win… It’s settled.”
Zimbabwe’s vote is well short of free-and-fair standards, say SADC, AU, foreign observers
Election observer missions deployed to Zimbabwe have unanimously reported issues which cast serious doubts about the free-and-fair nature of the poll, which they say fell well below expected standards.
With results trickling in, both the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and ruling Zanu-PF have claimed to be ahead in the count, and a dispute about the outcome seems inevitable.
The leader of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), the former vice president of Zambia, Nevers Mumba, raised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) failure to distribute ballots on time, resulting in delayed polls in some parts of the country.
He also raised concern about Forever Associate Zimbabwe (FAZ), a shadowy group linked to Zanu-PF, which set up “survey desks” outside polling stations in an intimidatory manner toward voters.