Soldiers patrol the streets of Harare as election violence leaves three dead

Introduction — Aug 2, 2018

The old white Rhodesians would joke that the end of white minority rule would bring the ruins of Zimbabwe — a reference to the ruined stone settlements in Zimbabwe that have been dated between the 11th and 15th century — and sure enough Black majority rule brought profound changes.
It brought three decades of dictatorship under Robert Mugabe, who enforced his rule with the help of the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade.
With the seizure of white-owned farms beginning in 1999 Zimbabwe’s decline turned into a full-blown collapse. What had once been seen as Africa’s bread basket, which exported substantial amounts of meat, fruit and grains, turned into a basket-case subsisting on United Nations relief aid.
That may change now that Mugabe has been removed from office and white farmers have been invited back to run farms on 99-year leases. However, that doesn’t alter the fact that Zimbabwe is still far from being a democracy.
Zimbabwe’s first elections without Mugabe illustrates why. The results are still in dispute as the army patrols central Harare following protests, over delays in announcing the final election results, which left three people dead. Ed.

Soldiers patrol the streets of Harare as Mnangagwa promises inquiry into election violence that left three dead in Zimbabwe

Our Foreign staff and Marnie Gill — Aug 2, 2018

Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised an independent inquiry into post election clashes in which three opposition protesters were killed

Mr Mnangagwa, whose ruling Zanu PF party yesterday claimed a large majority in disputed parliamentary elections, said he had been in contact with the leader of the opposition MDC Alliance in a bid to defuse tensions. 

“I am calling…for an independent inquiry into what occurred in Harare yesterday. We believe in transparency and accountability, and those responsible should be identified and brought to justice,” he wrote on his official Twitter channel.

“We have been in communication with Nelson Chamisa to discuss how to immediately diffuse the situation, and we must maintain this dialogue in order to protect the peace we hold dear.”

A spokesman for Mr Chamisa said he was not at liberty to confirm or deny whether such talks had taken place. 

Troops backed by armoured vehicles opened fire on Wednesday to clear the capital’s streets of demonstrators who accused Mnangagwa’s ruling party of trying to rig Monday’s presidential election.

Many shops were closed on Thursday morning and the pavements quiet. Several streets were still strewn with rocks and the charred remains of fires. Soldiers loitered at intersections.

“Yesterday was a very sad day for Zimbabwe,” said minibus driver Gift, glancing over his shoulder as a soldier smoking a cigarette looked on.

“We hope things remain quiet and we can all just forget about this election. We don’t know if it was fair. The government will do what they want.”

The deployment of soldiers and their shooting and beating of unarmed protesters is likely to set back efforts to end Zimbabwe’s pariah status in the wake of the army’s removal of longtime leader Robert Mugabe in a coup last November.

Mnangagwa blamed the violence on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led by Nelson Chamisa, who announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he had “won the popular vote”. Chamisa provided no details or concrete evidence of rigging.

The website of the election commission, which is expected to start announcing presidential election results on Thursday, was offline after being taken out by unidentified hackers overnight.

Amnesty International called on the government to launch a prompt investigation into the army’s actions.

“It is unfortunate that this election has descended into bloodshed, which could have been avoided if security forces had exercised restraint against protesters,” the London-based human rights organisation said.

It said that by using live ammunition against unarmed protesters, “the army has broken the very same rule of law that they should protect”.


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