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Mnangagwa treading on explosive political minefield

by Staff reporter
17 Sep 2023 at 22:13hrs | Views
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is currently facing a mounting political challenge as evidence surfaces indicating that soldiers voted against him in various barracks and through postal ballots to a greater extent than initially perceived.

According to credible sources, Mnangagwa suffered defeats to his main rival, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa, in numerous barracks across the country, as well as a substantial portion of the postal ballot votes.

The Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) reported that out of 18,000 registered postal ballot applicants, 17,000 were granted approval, with a significant number being members of the security forces, including the army, who largely supported Chamisa. In the 2018 elections, even the police had voted against Mnangagwa, a point he had voiced during his campaigns.

These developments underscore the fact that Mnangagwa's popularity remains considerably lower compared to his own party, Zanu-PF. Although Zanu-PF secured 62.9% of the National Assembly seats (176 out of 280), Mnangagwa himself received 52.6% of the vote, despite the advantages of incumbency, substantial funding, and support from Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), a Central Intelligence Organisation-linked organization.

In real terms, Mnangagwa's support declined by over 100,000 votes from the 2018 elections. In contrast, Chamisa also experienced a drop in his vote count by 180,093, amidst allegations of voter suppression and manipulation by Faz. Notably, Zanu-PF MPs outperformed Mnangagwa by a margin of 10%.

Furthermore, the recent election highlighted Mnangagwa's isolation, as evidenced by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) election observer mission's rejection of the election results, citing a failure to meet constitutional, legal, and democratic benchmarks.

One security official summed up the situation, stating that although Mnangagwa secured victory, he faces substantial challenges that will likely become more apparent in the coming months. His party and the soldiers lack confidence in him, leading to increased isolation compared to 2018.

It is worth noting that Mnangagwa's reliance on Faz, which supplanted the military in the election process, has created tensions within the military ranks. Even though the military played a pivotal role in bringing Mnangagwa to power in 2017, their influence has waned.

Recent reports also indicate that Mnangagwa lost at a polling station established for soldiers from Pondoroza Barracks in Redcliff, Midlands province, during the August election. This is largely due to dissatisfaction among military personnel over deteriorating working conditions and unfulfilled promises made during the 2017 military coup.

Despite assurances of improved conditions and better pay, these pledges remained unfulfilled, causing discontent among the rank and file. The situation has been further exacerbated by the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, characterized by severe shortages of essential commodities and a skyrocketing parallel market exchange rate.

Mnangagwa may have secured a controversial victory, but he now finds himself navigating a treacherous political landscape, as demonstrated by widespread public dissatisfaction, an ailing economy, and growing military discontent. Coupled with Sadc's rejection of the election results, Mnangagwa's hold on power appears increasingly fragile.

In this context, manipulated elections do not accurately reflect a leader's popularity and stability. Recent events in Gabon, where a military coup occurred following controversial elections, underscore the volatile nature of such situations. While military coups were once common in parts of Africa, they are resurfacing, with Zimbabwe setting a concerning precedent.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has cautioned against the idea that a coup could remove Mnangagwa, emphasizing the need for democratic solutions to the challenges facing Zimbabwe and other African nations.

Source - newshawks