A week after polling stations closed in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary and presidential elections, the country is far from being a happy place.
The opposition MDC-Alliance is preparing court papers for a legal challenge to the result, which gave the ruling Zanu-PF a large majority in parliament and saw incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking just over 50% of the vote.
Given that the Zimbabwean judiciary has been in the pockets of Zanu-PF for years, the court action is not likely to yield anything other than an endorsement of the election result.
But the more disturbing aspect of events in SA’s northern neighbour is that Mnangagwa’s security muscle – the police and the army – have continued the brutality which characterised the crackdown in Harare last week. Then, soldiers were deployed to counter protesting and property damage by MDC supporters. The military opened fire with live ammunition and six people died. The soldiers, though, have not been put on trial – but supporters of the MDC have been, accused of causing the deaths through starting the violence.
Amnesty International said more than 60 people have been arbitrarily arrested in what its southern African director, Deprose Muchena, called “a vicious campaign of torture, intimidation and suppression of dissenting voices”.
Though Mnangagwa has been making the right noises since he was placed in the top position following the “soft” military coup which removed President Robert Mugabe from office last year, his actions have not followed his promise of a “new dawn”.
The military rampage shows that Zanu-PF is still controlled by the men in uniform. This clique has benefitted handsomely as part of Zanu-PF’s kleptocracy and they are not about to surrender that position.
As one dismayed Zimbabwean said: “The driver may have changed, but the bus is still the same …”