The suspense is over. Just as I predicted this morning, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced late tonight (local time) that ED is the winner of the country's presidential election. Noooooo! Not our Ed., but Comrade Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, popularly (?) known as "ED". Or "the Crocodile", but don't say that too loudly or his supporters (pictured cheering the announcement) will punish you for insulting the President, an offence under Zim law since the days of President Banana. No kidding. You can look it up.
The ZEC announced that ED had won 50.8% of the vote, just enough to avoid a runoff. Nelson Chamisa, candidate of the MDC Alliance, got 44.3%. As our friend Poor Len Canayen would say, the Crocodile had the puck nailed to his stick. Lifetime pct .992.
The ruling ZANU-PF party won 144 of the 210 seats in Zimbabwe's rubber-stamp parliament. That's a two-thirds majority, which would enable it to change the constitution in the unlikely event that the opposition candidate had won. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) took 61 seats, and three seats remained "undeclared" when the lights went out tonight.
Shortly before the commission's announcement, the chief agent for the MDC Alliance took the stage at election central to say that his party "totally rejects" the results, and that he had not signed the papers. The police pictured in Walt's earlier post then escorted him from the room.
After being released, the chief agent said the elections were "fraudulent" and "everything has been done illegally." So, he said, he refused the ZEC's request to sign papers certifying Mnangagwa's win.
"We're not part of it," he said, adding that the opposition would be challenging the election in the courts.
The announcement came after clashes between opposition protesters and soldiers in Ha-ha-harare (the Fun Capital of Africa) left at least six people dead. The unrest marred what had been billed as an important milestone in Zimbabwe's efforts to return to democracy following 37 years of repression under longtime leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Comrade Bob is still alive but was unable to comment as he was said to be having a nap.