Chamisa fires last warning shot to Mnangagwa

CCC leader Nelson Chamisa


Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, has put President Emmerson Mnangagwa on warning for unleashing a campaign of violence and repression to cling to power ahead of the August 23 general elections.

Chamisa, who leads the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party told the Associated Press that Mnangagwa was playing with fire by violating the constitution and undermining independent institutions in an effort to stifle dissent and intimidate voters.

He also warned that any evidence of rigging or tampering by Mnangagwa’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) party could trigger a “total disaster” for a country that is already facing economic collapse and international isolation.

Chamisa, who will challenge Mnangagwa for the presidency in the elections, claimed that his party and its supporters have faced widespread harassment, arrests, assaults and even killings by state security agents and Zanu PF militias.

He said Mnangagwa has used the police and the courts to ban opposition rallies, block candidates from registering and filing petitions, and deny access to state media and electoral resources.

He cited several examples of alleged violations, including:

  • The abduction and torture of three female CCC activists in May, who were accused of plotting to overthrow the government.
  • The arrest and detention of dozens of CCC officials and members on various charges, including inciting public violence, subverting constitutional order and insulting the president.
  • The banning of several CCC rallies in urban areas, where the party enjoys strong support, on the pretext of enforcing COVID-19 regulations.
  • The disqualification of some CCC candidates on technical grounds, such as late submission of nomination papers or lack of proof of residence.
  • The refusal by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to allow independent observers and auditors to monitor the voter registration and ballot printing processes.
  • The manipulation of the voters’ roll, which contains millions of ghost voters, duplicate entries and missing names.
  • The deployment of soldiers and intelligence operatives in rural areas, where they are allegedly coercing villagers to attend Zanu PF meetings and vote for Mnangagwa.

Chamisa said these actions have created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty among Zimbabweans, who have endured decades of political violence and disputed elections under former president Robert Mugabe, who was ousted by Mnangagwa in a military coup in 2017.

He said many people in rural areas are facing a choice between “death or Zanu PF”, as they are threatened with violence or starvation if they do not support the ruling party.

“Mnangagwa is clearly triggering a national crisis,” he said during the interview in his 11th-floor office in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

“He is driving the country into chaos. He is actually instigating instability. He is violating the law. He is tearing apart institutions of the country.”

Chamisa’s allegations have been echoed by local and international human rights groups, who have documented cases of human rights abuses and electoral irregularities in Zimbabwe.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch issued a report saying that Zimbabwean authorities have failed to take necessary steps to ensure that the elections meet international standards for free and fair elections.

The report said that Zanu PF has used state resources to campaign for Mnangagwa, while denying equal opportunities to opposition parties.

It also said that ZEC lacks independence and transparency, and has failed to address concerns over the credibility of the electoral process.

The report urged the government to respect human rights and the rule of law, and called on regional and international bodies to closely monitor the elections and hold perpetrators of violence accountable.

On the same day, a CCC supporter was allegedly stoned to death by suspected Zanu PF supporters in an ambush on his way to an election rally in Mashonaland Central province.

The incident sparked outrage among opposition supporters, who accused Zanu PF of resorting to murder to silence its critics.

The information ministry condemned the killing and called for calm, saying that police were investigating the matter.

Mnangagwa has repeatedly denied any involvement in political violence or electoral fraud, saying that he is committed to holding free, fair and peaceful elections.

He has also invited foreign observers from various countries and organizations, including the United States, the European Union, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, to witness the elections.

He has dismissed Chamisa’s claims as baseless and desperate, saying that he is confident of winning a second term based on his record of delivering economic reforms and fighting corruption.

He has also accused Chamisa of being a puppet of Western powers, who have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe over its human rights record.

Mnangagwa has vowed to defend Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and independence from foreign interference.

The elections will be the second since Mugabe

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