Nelson Chamisa adamant he was robbed in Zimbabwe elections
Mnangagwa talks conciliation; alliance gathers rigging 'proof'
Just a few blocks apart in Harare, the vanquished talked war while the victors pledged peace.
Within hours of election results handing the presidency to Zanu-PF's Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday, the MDC Alliance's Nelson Chamisa insisted the vote had been rigged to thwart the will of the people.
At the colonial-era Bronte Hotel, Chamisa said: "We have so much evidence and we are going to be challenging the result."
But at State House, Mnangagwa insisted voting had been peaceful and transparent. "Our democratic process for the first time was open to the world like never before."
Chamisa, wearing his trademark red tie and a navy suit, said he believed he had received 56% of the vote, in spite of official results putting his share at 44.3% and Mnangagwa's at 50.8%.
Struggling to keep to his prepared speech, he said: "We actually got a majority vote in the presidential election, had it not been for the manipulation. The MDC [Movement for Democratic Change] Alliance structures are working to roll out a programme of action to protect the will of the people."
Earlier, throngs of journalists at his news conference were harassed by police, who later apologised and said they had thought the gathering was an unauthorised rally.Media watchdog Misa Zimbabwe said the police action "cast the country in a bad light, locally and internationally". Chamisa said it showed Mnangagwa had something to hide.
"If he is a born-again in terms of democracy, he must be honest and sincere with the way the election has come out. Even if we are to go to the courts, we have so much evidence and we are going to be challenging the result," Chamisa said.
The evidence is said to include witness accounts, videos of unsealed ballot boxes being taken to unknown locations, and proof that V11 forms - posted outside polling stations to show the results when vote-counting finished - were manipulated.
He would produce the evidence at the "appropriate time", Chamisa told the Sunday Times. "This was poorly done rigging. At least [former president] Robert Mugabe was a sophisticated fraudster, but this one [Mnangagwa] is so pedestrian."
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission commissioner Qhubani Moyo said the opposition should approach the courts and challenge the outcome. "Everything was done above board. We have nothing to hide. They have seven days to file their application," he said.
Events are flowing against Chamisa, with President Cyril Ramaphosa, chairperson of the Southern African Development Community, one of the first to congratulate Mnangagwa, and Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying both sides had to "respect the choice" of the people.At State House, Mnangagwa, in his signature scarf, offered an olive branch to Chamisa. "The campaign was hard-fought and at times competitive, as it should be," he said, but Chamisa now had a "crucial role" to play. He had sent senior officials to speak to the opposition leader and remind him of the peace pledge they signed before the poll.
Mnangagwa refused to take responsibility for the army presence on the streets on Wednesday, saying he had appointed a commission to look into the deaths of six people. "The independent commission … will be of foreign and local observers so that it remains as independent as possible," he said.
The time for "playing politics" was over. "I pledge to be a president for those that voted for me and those that did not ."