How the rural vote carried 'The Crocodile' Mnangagwa to victory in Zimbabwe
It was the sheer strength of numbers in rural Zimbabwe that carried Emmerson Mnangagwa to the Zimbabwean presidency following results announced shortly before 1am on Friday.
Mnangagwa‚ nicknamed ‘The Crocodile’‚ was confirmed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) as the winner of the vote‚ which took place on Monday.
At a press briefing that started shortly after 10pm‚ Priscilla Chigumba‚ the ZEC chair‚ said that the results from one province were still outstanding – but the commission returned at about 12.30am on Friday morning to make the final announcement.
And it was confirmed that Mnangagwa‚ the incumbent who replaced ousted leader Robert Mugabe last year‚ received 2 460 463 of the votes across the country. This was 50.8% of the total vote; just enough to avoid a runoff.
His fiercest rival‚ Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance‚ came second‚ with 2 147 436 (or 44.3%) of the total vote.
The ruling Zanu-PF was also confirmed to have clinched the majority in Parliament.
While the urban centres of Bulawayo and Harare voted overwhelming for Chamisa‚ he was trounced in rural Zimbabwe‚ where most of the country’s population lives.
In the two urban centres‚ Harare and Bulawayo‚ Chamisa received more than double the support Mnangagwa could muster.
In Harare‚ the capital‚ Chamisa received 548 880 votes compared to Mnangagwa’s 204 710. In Bulawayo‚ the second city‚ Chamisa got 144 107 votes against Mnangagwa’s 60 168 votes.
Chamisa did claim two rural provinces – Manicaland and Matabeleland North – but not by significant enough margins.
In Manicaland the MDC Alliance leader got just around 3 500 votes (296 429) more than Mnangagwa (292 938). Even though the victory in Matabeleland North was by a bigger margin - Chamisa got 137 611 votes to Mnangagwa’s 111 453 – it wasn’t enough.
In contrast‚ The Crocodile had often decisive victories
– with ZEC counts showing that he had won in:
- Masvingo (Mnangagwa 319 073 votes‚ Chamisa 171 196 votes);
- Mashonaland East (Mnangagwa 334 617 votes‚ Chamisa 189 024 votes);
- Matabeleland South (Mnangagwa 107 008 votes‚ Chamisa 90 292 votes);
- Mashonaland Central (Mnangagwa 366 785 votes‚ Chamisa 97 097 votes);
- Midlands (Mnangagwa 350 754 votes‚ Chamisa 255 059 votes); and
- Mashonaland West (Mnangagwa 312 958 votes‚ Chamisa 217 732).
The MDC Alliance is expected to challenge the results‚ an expectation that was raised after party chairman Morgan Komichi - accompanied by Chamisa spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda – gatecrashed the ZEC announcement claiming that the results were "fake".
He said that chief elections officers had not yet verified the results‚ before the pair were then escorted from the stage.