UN secretary general Guterres voices concern over Zimbabwe election

2023 Elections International Politics

NEW YORK, United States – United Nations secretary general António Guterres is “concerned” about developments in Zimbabwe after President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed a controversial re-election, his office said on Sunday.


Mnangagwa was declared winner of last Wednesday’s vote with 52.6 percent, but his main rival Nelson Chamisa, who obtained 44 percent, said the results were “not genuine” and has vowed to release his own party’s tallies.


Foreign observer missions have unanimously characterised the election as skewed in Mnangagwa’s favour and concluded that it did not meet the standards set by Zimbabwean law, regional and international bodies.


“The secretary general is closely following developments in Zimbabwe’s elections. He is concerned about the arrest of observers, reports of voter intimidation, threats of violence, harassment and coercion,” said Florencia Soto Niño-Martínez, a spokesman for Guterres.

“The secretary general calls on political leaders and their supporters to reject any and all forms of violence, threats of violence, or incitement to violence, and to ensure that human rights and the rule of law are fully respected.


“The secretary general calls on political actors to peacefully settle any disputes through established legal and institutional channels, and urges the competent authorities to resolve any disputes in a fair, expeditious, and transparent manner to ensure that the results are a true reflection of the will of the people.”


Chamisa alleged “blatant and gigantic fraud” in the election and has vowed to release his own party’s tallies to prove that he won the election.


“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission regrettably and once again failed to perform its constitutional mandate by not announcing the correct and accurate results. Notwithstanding the flaws of the election, genuine results should have been announced, and we have the genuine results,” Chamisa told a news conference in Harare.


“There’s going to be change in Zimbabwe, whether Zanu PF people want it or not. It’s not going to be easy, but we must change. We will not wait for 5 years, there has to be change now. We will put a full stop to this madness, whatever it takes.”


The election “has not passed the test of constitutionality, legality and legitimacy,” Chamisa said, describing it as a “sham.”


Mnangagwa denied the election was flawed as he defended his victory.


“I did not conduct these elections. I think those who feel the race was not run properly know where to go to complain. I am so happy,” he said at a news conference Sunday, adding that the elections were run “transparently, fairly in broad daylight.”

International election observers have noted problems with the election, citing an atmosphere of intimidation against Chamisa’s supporters and voter suppression in the opposition’s urban strongholds after ballot papers were delivered late.


The election observers said they had specific concerns over a ruling party affiliate organisation called Forever Associates of Zimbabwe that they said set up tables at polling stations and took details of people walking into voting booths. The head of the African Union observer mission, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, said the FAZ activities should be declared “criminal offences.”


Zimbabwe has a history of disputed and sometimes violent elections in the more than four decades of Zanu PF rule, most notably under autocratic former president Robert Mugabe, who was leader for 37 years and oversaw a period of economic collapse that gained Zimbabwe international notoriety.


Rights abuses under Mugabe also resulted in the United States and the European Union applying sanctions on Zimbabwe for alleged human rights abuses. Those sanctions are largely still in place.


Mugabe was removed from power in a military-led coup in 2017 and replaced with Mnangagwa, his former vice president. The coup was widely popular and celebrated as a new dawn, but while Mnangagwa promised an era of freedom and prosperity, critics allege the former guerrilla fighter nicknamed “the crocodile” has become more repressive than his predecessor.