Zimbabwe Opposition to Challenge Presidential Results

Zimbabwe's main opposition party says it will legally challenge official results showing that President Emmerson Mnangagwa won the July 30 election. The announcement comes as tension in the country remains high, with human rights organizations saying the army is assaulting opposition members, an allegation the government denies.

Douglas Mwonzora, secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, says the party has gathered material to show that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission inflated vote totals in favor of the incumbent president.

"The variance, so far, that we have been able to tell is that in Harare, President Mnangagwa votes were exaggerated by 130,000 votes, in Bulawayo, I think, it was 40,000, so we have been able to see the discrepancies in the figures that ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] announced."

According to official figures, Mnangagwa garnered 50.8 percent of the vote, beating MDC candidate Nelson Chamisa's 44 percent. But Chamisa says he actually won 56 percent of the vote.

Last week, opposition protests in Harare denouncing the electoral commission resulted in six deaths, several injuries and 27 arrests.

Tuesday, Magistrate Nyasha Vhitorini granted $50 bail to each of those arrested and said the state had reduced the case to "political rhetoric."

"I am satisfied that there is nothing placed before this court that shows that the accused persons are a flight risk, nothing was brought to court, what was brought to court was that they have a propensity to go and disturb peace, now there is a standard that has disjointed the case that I have cited, we have an IO [investigating officer] saying something, state prosecutor saying something. The story is so, so disjointed in a material way," Vhitorini said.

After the hearing, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights chairman Denford Halimani said the 27 should not have been arrested in the first place.

"So we have no doubt that when these people are put on trial, if at all we are going to go to the stage, they are going to be acquitted," Halimani said.

Meanwhile, the head of Human Rights Watch in southern Africa, Dewa Mavhinga, told VOA the Zimbabwean army is beating up people in opposition strongholds.

Zimbabwe's Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo denies the charge.

"Let me assure you that the military in this country is generally a well-trained and very disciplined force, and it will not indulge in that. ... But what we are witnessing is that they may be certain personalities who might be purporting to be soldiers and are not soldiers, that are going about imitating as if they are. This is what we are busy investigating."

But Mavhinga blames the government.

"How do men with masks go about abducting people and also looking for MDC officials? How does that happen in a country that has law and order and how does it suddenly become an issue after an election? The government must take responsibility, because this type of lawlessness points to a clear pattern of targeting MDC officials."

The EU, U.S., Canadian and Swiss embassies issued a statement Tuesday expressing concern over "excessive use of force by Zimbabwe authorities to quash opposition MDC Alliance protesters last week."

Source: Voice of America