The UN has criticised the government of Zimbabwe, calling on them to reject violence after a crackdown saw government troops open fire on opposition protestors.
Police have confirmed that three people were killed in the clashes, but Africanews journalist Pindai Dube told Euronews that the belief in Harare is that the number could be higher.
The scenes of violence contrast dramatically with what President Emmerson Mnangagwa had promised to be a peaceful and free election – but protestors called out the government for what they allege was vote-rigging as early results came in.
The ruling Zanu-PF appeared to be winning early votes in the first election since the army was deployed to remove their former leader Robert Mugabe.
President Mnangagwa had pledged during campaigning to open Zimbabwe to foreign investment in the hope of reviving an ailing economy. Inviting foreign observers in for the vote, it was widely seen as an attempt by Mnangagwa to shed the country of its pariah status and return it to the international fold.
Elmar Brok, the EU’s chief election observer said that while initial findings suggested that the vote itself seemed to be normal, there were many potential factors which could influence the outcome: “the question that was no level playing field in the media question, by the state media, gave only the ruling party the real access and some other such questions which might have played a role in the impact of the election result”.
Mugabe surprised some on Sunday when he publically came out in support of the opposition MDC Alliance party. The party led by Nelson Chamisa had gained support with Zimbabwe’s youth in the run-up to the election. But as the votes came in the mood soured with Chamisa claiming on Wednesday that he had “won the popular vote”. The unrest started shortly after.
A spokesperson for the UN told reporters that they were “concerned about the reports of violence” and reminded political leaders of the “commitments they made” in ensuring a peaceful electoral process. UN Chief Antonio Guterres called on Zimbabwe’s government to “exercise restraint”.