Zimbabwe Electoral Court Ruling To Decide Presidential Victor

Aug 24, 2018
Originally published on August 24, 2018 9:07 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Big moment in Zimbabwe this morning. A court in that country has thrown out a challenge to Emmerson Mnangagwa's victory in last month's election.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LUKE MALABA: The application is dismissed with cause. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is duly declared the winner of the presidential elections.

GREENE: Now, this is a major blow to the opposition who accuse the government of corruption here. NPR's Eyder Peralta joins us now from the Zimbabwe capital, Harare. Hey, Eyder.

EDYER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hi, David.

GREENE: Just remind us about what the concerns were over this election and what the stakes were in this decision.

PERALTA: So the opposition was claiming vast rigging. They - you know, they pointed to a huge gap between parliamentary votes and presidential votes. You know, there were 17 polling stations that had the exact same results for all 23 candidates. The results were changed three times by the electoral committee, and they said that those changes amounted enough that it would require a runoff.

GREENE: OK. That sounds like a pretty compelling case of a rigged election potentially. So how did the court justify its ruling that that was - that it was fair?

PERALTA: The court was unconvinced. They said that the opposition did not have the goods, that what they should have done is they should have opened the ballot boxes. They should have recounted the votes and made sure that those allegations were real by basically forcing a recount.

GREENE: OK. So there has been violence during this period of uncertainty. I wonder now that this decision has come down, it was not a victory for the opposition, what is the feeling on the streets, and is there fear of more violence?

PERALTA: Yeah, but, you know, what I've heard is actually resignation from people. You know, on August 1 here, there was a protest before the results were announced, and six people were killed. And I think that's really frightened people. Earlier, I spoke to one young woman. Her name is Nabilah (ph) and she would only give me her first name because she's afraid to talk. And she said back in November when Robert Mugabe was ousted, she had hope, but things have changed. Let's listen to a bit of what she said.

NABILAH: We had hoped that things were going to change, but today, this very day, we are not happy as Zimbabweans because we thought Mugabe was the problem. But now I think we see Mugabe's not the problem. Maybe the whole system is the problem.

PERALTA: And what she says is they don't have the appetite for street protests because going out on the streets here is likely going to get you killed.

GREENE: Fear of getting killed if you take to the streets and those words just hang there that she said - maybe the whole system is the problem. So is this the end of the road now for the opposition who - I mean, it sounds like were so optimistic when Mugabe was out of power?

PERALTA: There was. There was a ton of hope in this country, and this is the end of the legal road. Earlier today, the secretary general of the opposition party said they still have the right to protest, but, again, that's a big decision here in this country where there is a ton of police presence right now. Sending people out into the streets is risky business.

GREENE: All right, a big moment in Zimbabwe. NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta is there. Eyder, thanks as always.

PERALTA: Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.