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Harare residents concern violence as questions simmer over Zimbabwe election | Elections Information

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Harare, Zimbabwe – Rising political tensions within the Southern African nation have spawned fears of post-election violence amongst residents within the capital Harare, as poll tabulation continues a day after voting ended.

Zimbabwe held normal elections on Wednesday and Thursday, pitting President Emmerson Mnangagwa in opposition to Nelson Chamisa of the Residents Coalition for Change, the primary opposition celebration.

Residents of Harare’s sprawling high-density suburbs equivalent to Budiriro, Glen View, Highfield, Mufakose and Kuwadzana — in addition to city centres like Chitungwiza — had just about locked themselves indoors by 6pm as anxieties gripped the nation. Solely a handful of individuals have been seen sauntering house.

“It’s like there’s a 6pm curfew,” Anesu Munodawafa, a Kuwadzana resident, mentioned.

Zimbabwe has a historical past of each pre- and post-election violence, which has fed considerations that authorities authorities would use pressure to quell any protests, significantly from the opposition.

The Residents Coalition for Change has already indicated it believes it received this week’s presidential election. Early polls confirmed the ruling celebration, Zimbabwe African Nationwide Union-Patriotic Entrance (ZANU-PF), in a good race with the coalition.

Mnangagwa and Chamisa beforehand ran in opposition to one another in 2018, in one other hotly contested presidential election. The ensuing protests turned lethal, with troopers opening hearth on demonstrators and bystanders, killing six.

Residents concern an analogous violence could happen once more this yr, as questions swirl about election integrity.

A go to to Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Budiriro and Glen View, suburbs south of the capital, confirmed that the streets have been abandoned on Friday evening, with many nightclubs closed.

In Kuwadzana, a preferred nightspot, normally full of patrons, was abandoned round 8pm. An enormous lock had been positioned on the primary entrance. Solely two retailers and one pub have been open out of greater than eight on the native buying centre. It was the identical in most surrounding cities.

Esma Ncube, a vendor on the retailers, expressed concern of potential violence however insisted she wanted to work to maintain meals on the desk for her household.

“The police can come right here anytime so I’m at all times able to run,” she instructed Al Jazeera, holding a plastic bucket containing eggs.

Based on her, plain-clothed law enforcement officials indiscriminately assaulted patrons on the bars on Thursday and compelled closures.

A number of different incidences of police brutality have been reported in numerous cities round Harare since election day.

Within the capital, a heavy presence of anti-riot police patrolled the streets. Al Jazeera noticed baton-wielding officers strolling alongside Second Avenue in uptown Harare.

A woman walks by a giant billboard of Zimbabwe's president Emmerson Mnangagwa, with a QR code at the bottom.
A billboard advertises the marketing campaign of President Emmerson Mnangagwa forward of the final elections on August 22 [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

Authorities on Friday barricaded the N1 freeway that results in Harare’s Central Enterprise District (CBD) and created a detour. A number of anti-riot policemen stood behind a metal barricade erected on the freeway late afternoon and redirected site visitors to the town’s periphery. The barricaded street results in the workplaces of the Zimbabwe Electoral Fee (ZEC), the physique operating the nation’s elections.

A 2023 survey from the nonprofit analysis community Afrobarometer discovered that solely 51 p.c of Zimbabweans belief the ZEC to carry credible polls, whereas 49 p.c mentioned incorrect outcomes have been seemingly.

Already, the Southern African Growth Neighborhood, a grouping of southern African nations, has highlighted alleged voter discrimination and different irregularities with the election.

Critics have additionally raised considerations about an August 23 raid on the workplaces of Zimbabwe Election Help Community (ZESN) and Election Useful resource Centre (ERC), two election-monitoring nonprofits. Police seized computer systems and supplies from the workplaces and arrested 40 staff.

The costs in opposition to the nonprofit staff weren’t made public on the time of their arrest, and so they have but to look in court docket.

A wig salesperson has a row of mannequin heads in front of her. Behind her is a wall covered with campaign advertisements.
A wig salesperson sits beneath marketing campaign advertisements within the capital Harare on August 25, as vote tabulation within the normal elections proceed [Philemon Bulawayo/Reuters]

Harare-based political analyst Rashwhit Mukundu mentioned the law enforcement officials’ raid was a present of pressure meant to silence dissent. He referred to as it a “brazen electoral-rigging technique”.

“It’s in preparation to announce outcomes which are beneficial to ZANU-PF and forestall any try by the opposition to protest. Additionally it is an try and cowl electoral illegalities and irregularities by the demonstrating pressure and pre-empting any makes an attempt by the opposition to boost considerations,” Mukundu instructed Al Jazeera through a messaging service.

Mukundu additionally mentioned the arrest of ZESN and ERC staff was unlawful, including they have been accredited for the work they have been doing.

“What they have been doing is what they’ve at all times performed within the open, and there was nothing unusual [in what] they have been doing,” he mentioned.

As a substitute, Mukundu referred to as the arrests a witch hunt and an “try and shift blame for its failures and looking for scapegoats”.

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