Zimbabwe’s opposition chief tells AP intimidation is forcing voters to decide on ruling occasion or loss of life

Zimbabwe’s fundamental opposition chief accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of violating the legislation and tearing aside unbiased establishments to cling to energy.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Nelson Chamisa additionally warned that any proof of tampering by Mnangagwa’s ruling occasion on this month’s elections might result in “total disaster” for a beleaguered nation that’s in financial smash and already below United States and European Union sanctions for its human rights file.

Chamisa, who will problem Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF occasion’s 43-year maintain on energy in an Aug. 23 vote, claimed widespread intimidation in opposition to his opposition occasion forward of the elections.

Chamisa mentioned Mnangagwa has utilized establishments just like the police and the courts to crack down on essential figures, ban opposition rallies and stop candidates from standing. He laid out a sequence of considerations that point out the nation, with its historical past of violent and disputed elections, could possibly be heading for one more one.

In rural areas removed from the worldwide highlight, a lot of Zimbabwe’s 15 million individuals are making their political decisions below the specter of violence, Chamisa mentioned, pushed to ruling occasion rallies and compelled to help Mnangagwa and the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front in the event that they need to keep secure — and even alive.

Chamisa referred to as it a selection of “death or ZANU-PF” for some.

“Mnangagwa is clearly triggering a nationwide disaster,” Chamisa, the leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change party, said in the interview with the AP in his 11th-floor office in the capital, Harare. “He is driving the country into chaos. He is actually instigating instability. He is violating the law. He is tearing apart institutions of the country.”

Mnangagwa has repeatedly denied allegations of intimidation and violence by authorities or his party and has publicly called on his supporters to act peacefully during the campaign.

But Chamisa’s portrayal of a highly repressive political landscape in the southern African nation — where the removal of autocrat Robert Mugabe in 2017 appears to have been a false dawn — is backed by reports released by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch ahead of the presidential, parliamentary and local government votes in three weeks.

They will take place amid “five years of brutal crackdowns on human rights,” Amnesty said, since Mnangagwa gained power from Mugabe in a coup and then won a disputed presidential election by a razor-thin margin against Chamisa in 2018. In its assessment, Human Rights Watch said Zimbabwean authorities have “weaponized the criminal justice system against the ruling party’s opponents” and the buildup to the vote has not met free and fair international standards.

Zimbabwe has significant mineral resources — including Africa’s largest deposits of highly sought-after lithium — and rich agricultural potential, and could be of huge benefit to the continent if it gained the political and economic stability that has eluded it for years. Zimbabwe was shunned by the West for two decades because of abuses during the regime of Mugabe, who died in 2019.

Mugabe’s removal sent Zimbabweans into the streets to celebrate, and Mnangagwa promised democracy and freedom would be born from the coup. He maintained recently that “Zimbabwe is now a mature democracy” under him.

Rights groups say it’s a mirage and the 80-year-old Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally once known as his enforcer, has been as repressive as the man he removed.

Under Mnangagwa, critics and opposition figures have been jailed, including CCC lawmaker Job Sikhala, who has been in detention for over a year after accusing ruling party supporters of hacking to death an opposition activist. Some have faced legal backlash for seemingly minor criticisms, like world-renowned author Tsitsi Dangarembga, who was arrested for participating in a protest that called for better services for citizens.

A court decision disqualified all 12 CCC candidates in Bulawayo, the second-largest city, from standing in the election, even after the electoral agency said they had registered properly. They successfully appealed to the Supreme Court to be allowed to stand.

“I am nowhere near the court,” Mnangagwa said, denying any influence on the initial decision to bar the opposition candidates.

Chamisa, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor, said Mnangagwa was now overseeing a second coup in Zimbabwe.

“You can’t have a contest without contestation. You can’t have an election without candidates,” Chamisa mentioned. “Once you remove candidates, you might be truly eliminating an election. And that’s the purpose we’re making. … It’s a coup on decisions.”

The elections will probably be monitored by observers from the European Union and African Union, who had been invited by Mnangagwa. He says he has nothing to cover. Human Rights Watch has questioned if the observers will probably be allowed to entry all elements of the nation, whereas their small numbers make it possible they will not be capable to monitor the whole vote. There are 150 observers from the EU and greater than 12,500 polling stations throughout the nation.

Chamisa informed the AP that his occasion has put in place methods to have the ability to independently examine vote counts, however there are additionally doubts that the CCC can deploy sufficient members to look at over these stations, many deep in rural areas thought to be ZANU-PF strongholds.

Should their calculations present fraud this time, as was alleged in 2018 and different elections earlier than that, Chamisa warned it can “plunge the country into total disaster and chaos.”

He urged Mnangagwa to step again from his repressive insurance policies in a rustic denied democracy below white minority rule earlier than 1980 and once more — in keeping with worldwide rights teams — below the one two leaders it has seen since: Mugabe and Mnangagwa.

“He must be stopped because he can’t drive the whole nation and plunge it into darkness and an abyss on account of just wanting to retain power,” Chamisa said of Mnangagwa. “Zimbabweans deserve peace, they deserve rest. They have suffered for a long time.”


AP Africa information: https://apnews.com/hub/africa

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