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Zimbabwe poll: Mnangagwa, Chamisa claim early leads, observers say 'too close to call'

Zimbabwe poll: Mnangagwa, Chamisa claim early leads, observers say 'too close to call'

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader took to Twitter on Tuesday to declare that election results from more than 10,000 polling stations showed his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had done “exceedingly well”.

Nelson Chamisa, 40, and 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa were the main contenders in Monday’s election, the first since long-ruling Robert Mugabe was removed in a bloodless coup in November.

‘‘Awaiting ZEC to perform their constitutional duty to officially announce the people’s election results and we are ready to form the next government,’‘ Chamisa said on Twitter.

I am delighted by the high turnout and citizen engagement so far. The information from our reps on the ground is extremely positive!

Mnangagwa, who was viewed as the frontrunner, also took to Twitter to say ‘information from our representatives on the ground is extremely positive’.

‘‘I am delighted by the high turnout and citizen engagement so far. The information from our reps on the ground is extremely positive! Waiting patiently for official results as per the constitution,’‘ the president tweeted.

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission, which said voter turnout had averaged 75 percent, will announce results within five days.

Too close to call

Several civil society groups are collating results from 10,985 polling posts in parallel with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) but are not allowed to release results before the ZEC. A source at one group said it was too early to call a winner but it was looking “very close”.

There will be a runoff on Sept. 8 if no candidate wins more than half the votes.

‘Rural’ Mnangagwa vs ‘Urban’ Chamisa

In the capital Harare, an MDC stronghold, results posted outside some polling stations seen by Reuters showed Chamisa winning by wide margins but Mnangagwa was expected to claw back ground in the ruling ZANU-PF rural heartland.

Urban results tend to emerge quicker than those from rural outposts, where communication is poor.

In some rural constituencies in the east and south of the country, counting of votes was still ongoing but was expected to end early on Tuesday, some parliamentary candidates said.

Fixing Zimbabwe

The election winner faces the task of putting Zimbabwe back on track after 37 years of Mugabe rule tainted by corruption, mismanagement and diplomatic isolation that caused a crisis in a country that once had one of Africa’s most promising economies.

A credible vote is essential if Zimbabwe is to exit painful sanctions and secure the donor funding and investment needed to stem chronic cash shortages.

The run-up to Monday’s vote was largely peaceful compared to past elections under Mugabe, where the ruling party and war veterans were accused of violence against opponents.

Dozens of people were killed ahead of a runoff in 2008 between Mugabe and MDC-founder Morgan Tsvangirai, who died of cancer in February.

Mugabe emerged on the eve of the election to announce he would vote for the opposition, surprising Mnangagwa who accused him of striking a deal with Chamisa.

Mugabe is Zimbabwe’s de facto opposition leader: Mnangagwa
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