#ZimbabweDecides: A timeline of the Harare pandemonium
The first ballot in 37 years in Zimbabwe was supposed to be marked by pictures of residents casting their votes peacefully, political leaders joining hands at the historic event and hope for a renewed start. Instead, three people died as protestors took to the streets of Harare to oppose the early results announcement. The military had to intervene and pictures of Harare on fire have dominated the newswires.
Here's how peace turned to violence in just three days.
Polling stations opened across Zimbabwe at 7am and were scheduled to close at 7pm. It was the first ballot since the ousting of Robert Mugabe. There were no reports of violence.
However, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa hints at trouble and says victory belongs to his party.
Victory is ours!Long winding queues in most parts of Harare.There seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress and frustrate the Urban vote. Good turn out but the people’s will being negated & undetermined due to these deliberate & unnecessary delays.We are in because #Godisinit— Nelson Chamisa (@nelsonchamisa) July 30, 2018
Zanu-PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa also issued a warning on his Twitter page, reminding Zimbabweans that only the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was mandated to release results.
Today, Zimbabwe experienced a beautiful expression of freedom & democracy. In our millions, we voted in the spirit of tolerance, mutual respect & peace.— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) July 30, 2018
As we wait for results to come in, let us remember that only ZEC is constitutionally mandated to announce any form of results
Normal life continued in Zimbabwe as voting for the historical election began taking place. Supporters of the MDC celebrated outside of the party's headquarters in Harare after the polls closed without a hitch.
Officials dismantled temporary election stations and life went on for locals.
Mnangagwa applauded the high voter turn out.
Good morning Zimbabwe. I am delighted by the high turnout and citizen engagement so far. The information from our reps on the ground is extremely positive! Waiting patiently for official results as per the constitution.— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) July 31, 2018
As we wait for further official results, I urge us all to remember the teaching from Ephesians, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) July 31, 2018
In Harare MDC supporters are out early in the morning. They gathered outside the parties headquarters to wait for the official results.
Chamisa puts out a tweet saying the MDC has won the popular vote.
Zec seeks to release results to buy time & reverse the people’s presidential election victory. The strategy is meant to prepare Zim mentally to accept fake presidential results.We’ve more votes than ED.We won the popular vote & will defend it !— Nelson Chamisa (@nelsonchamisa) August 1, 2018
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announces that early results show the Zanu-PF has a firm lead. MDC supporters start gathering outside the results centre and police are deployed.
Chamisa thanks Zimbabweans for the support.
THANK YOU ZIMBABWE ...I’m humbled by the support you have given to me as a Presidential Candidate. We have won the popular vote. You voted for total Change in this past election!We have won this one together. No amount of results manipulation will alter your WILL #Godisinit— Nelson Chamisa (@nelsonchamisa) August 1, 2018
By mid-afternoon chaos has erupted and military police are deployed as Harare burns.
MDC Alliance Presidential Spokesperson Dr Nkululeko Sibanda called the situation in Harare "dark times."
MDC Alliance spokesman “there is no justification what so ever for the brutality we experienced today. The idea that protesters are violent is a false narrative....”— harumutasa/aljazeera (@harumutasa) August 1, 2018
MDC Alliance spokesman “it really doesn’t matter who started the violence.”— harumutasa/aljazeera (@harumutasa) August 1, 2018
MDC Alliance spokesman is asked why is the party inciting people by declaring they have won..... he doesn’t really answer the question— harumutasa/aljazeera (@harumutasa) August 1, 2018
Mnangagwa calls for calm.
At this crucial time, I call on everyone to desist from provocative declarations and statements. We must all demonstrate patience and maturity, and act in a way that puts our people and their safety first. Now is the time for responsibility and above all, peace— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) August 1, 2018
Zimbabwean police confirm an investigation into the violence will take place.
There's calm on the streets of Harare... for the moment. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said on Wednesday that the presidential results are likely to be announced on Thursday (today).
Mnangagwa extends the olive branch to Chamisa.
I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of yesterday’s violence. All human life is sacred, and their deaths are a tragedy, irrespective of the circumstances. I would also like to wish a speedy recovery to all those injured in yesterday’s events— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) August 2, 2018
I am therefore calling for an independent investigation into what occurred in Harare yesterday. We believe in transparency and accountability, and those responsible should be identified and brought to justice.— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) August 2, 2018
We have been in communication with Nelson Chamisa to discuss how to immediately diffuse the situation, and we must maintain this dialogue in order to protect the peace we hold dear.— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) August 2, 2018
And now the world waits as Zimbabwe decides...