Zimbabwe’s election results have begun to trickle in for councillors and members of parliament, but experts are cautioning that it is too early to predict a victor between main political rivals Zanu PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
There is great anticipation in Harare two days after Zimbabweans headed to the polls to elect the next government amid delays and a voting extension.
The elections took place on Wednesday to select councillors, members of parliament and the presidential candidate.
The presidential race has been narrowed down to Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu PF and Nelson Chamisa of the CCC.
This comes after two key contestants, Douglas Mwonzora of the Movement for Democratic Change and former Zanu PF cabinet minister-turned-independent candidate Saviour Kasukuwere fell by the wayside.
Mwonzora pulled out citing an unfair political playing field allegedly orchestrated by the country’s vote counting body.
Kasukuwere lost a legal bid to continue the race after he was found to have spent a long time outside of Zimbabwe, rendering him an unsuitable candidate.
NOT SO FAST
Zimbabwe’s local political analysts have cautioned that the early poll results are not sufficient to predict the overall outcome.
“It is difficult to tell. There are 12 374 polling stations . . ,” political analyst Gibson Nyikadzino said yesterday.
He has cautioned Zimbabweans against relying on social media announcements.
“What is key now is whether the information is official, true and verified. This election is like a hybrid war that is full of falsehoods, pre-truths, alternative facts, misinformation and disinformation. If people consume false information on social media, when the official narrative comes, will they accept it?” he asked.
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation’s Webster Zambara said: “It is too early to gauge how the end will be. However, some results, yet to be officially confirmed, like Cowdrey Park in Bulawayo, where Zanu PF’s minister of finance allegedly lost to the opposition CCC candidate, have sent tongues wagging.
“Social media is abuzz with results. While this is a good alternative news source, it is also vulnerable to fake news.
“And since the voting process was extended in some areas, the waiting period may be longer than expected. Hopefully, a peaceful post-election environment will continue, and may the results unite rather than divide the country.”
CAN SOCIAL MEDIA GET IT RIGHT?
Social media has so far been abuzz with unverified reports of ex-Zanu PF bigwig-turned-independent candidate Temba Mliswa losing in Norton, where he has maintained a stronghold over the past years.
Another unofficial report widely circulated on social media on Thursday morning was that of Zimbabwean businessman Scott Sakupwanya losing in Mabvuku.
CCC official spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere has declared herself a winner by yesterday afternoon in the Mt Pleasant area (Harare) after she took to social media to thank the electorate.
Deputy CCC spokesperson Gift Siziba has also declared himself a winner in Bulawayo.
Social media reports have it that Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, who was running for Zanu PF at Bulawayo’s Cowdrey Park has failed to shake competition from the opposition’s Pashor Sibanda.
In Chitungwiza, another major political battleground for Zanu PF and the CCC, Siziba reported that they won all 25 council seats there.
In the meantime, as per an official Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announcement, Zanu PF has retained all areas which were not contested by the opposition.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Prolific Mataruse has warned that social media is currently priming up emotions and expectations across the country.
“It’s too early to comment since the official results are still to be announced,” he said yesterday.
The ZEC is by law the only organisation allowed to announce election results.