Mnangagwa says freedom of speech indispensable in ‘new Zimbabwe’


HARARE: President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday that freedom of speech was an indispensable part of the “new Zimbabwe,” criticizing earlier scenes where police chased away journalists waiting for a briefing by his main rival in this week’s presidential election.

“The scenes today at the Bronte Hotel have no place in our society and we are urgently investigating the matter to understand exactly what happened,” Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter. “We won the election freely and fairly, and have nothing to hide or fear. Anyone is free to address the media at any time,” he added.

Zimbabwe opposition leader to challenge results: Zimbabwe opposition leader Nelson Chamisa is declaring “a day of mourning … for democracy” and rejecting the results of the election in which President Emmerson Mnanagwa saw a narrow victory.

Chamisa spoke shortly after riot police briefly broke up journalists waiting for his statement. Mnangagwa quickly condemned the police action.

Chamisa, who received over 44 percent of the vote, is alleging violence and harassment against his supporters and manipulation of the election results.

He says the opposition has evidence of vote-rigging but that the electoral commission “didn’t want to listen to us.”

He declares that “we won this election” and urges Mnangagwa to acknowledge that.

Zimbabwe’s president says the scenes of riot police dispersing journalists waiting for an opposition briefing “have no place in our society.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Twitter says authorities are “urgently investigating” the events as journalists awaited opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who has rejected the results of Monday’s election.

Mnangagwa was declared the winner with just over 50 percent of the vote.

The president says that “we won the election freely and fairly, and have nothing to hide or fear.”

Zimbabwe cops stop opposition meeting after Mnangagwa win: Hours after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner of a tight election, riot police disrupted a press conference where opposition leader Nelson Chamisa was about to respond to the election results.

Chamisa had already denounced Mnangagwa’s win as “fake” and fraudulent, and earlier Thursday police issued a warrant for Chamisa’s arrest.

Friday morning a truckload of police, with shields and batons, dispersed 100 local and international press gathered to hear Chamisa but did not say why they were taking such action.

The police action heightened the apprehension that remained in Harare after the army rolled in with tanks on Wednesday to disperse rock-throwing demonstrators who denounced Mnangagwa and alleged vote-rigging in the country’s first vote after the fall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe.

The military were not visible on Harare’s streets on Friday. Water cannons and police remained present, however, at the headquarters of the main opposition party, a day after authorities raided it and made 18 arrests.

Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former enforcer and confidante, said he was “humbled” by the victory and in a Twitter post urged Zimbabweans to stay peaceful.

The opposition said it will challenge in court the results of the election, which Mnangagwa won with just over 50 percent of the vote.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who received more than 44 percent of the vote, said on Twitter that “unverified fake results” had been announced by the electoral commission. The commission “must release proper & verified results endorsed by parties,” he tweeted. “The level of opaqueness, truth deficiency, moral decay & values deficit is baffling.”

In a brief moment of drama shortly before the commission announced the winner in Friday’s early hours, two agents for Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change party took the stage and told waiting journalists that they “totally reject” the results and said they had not signed them as required, in protest. Police escorted them from the room.

The week’s events left many Zimbabweans with a sense of unease and questions about how different Mnangagwa is from his predecessor Mugabe, who stepped down in November under military pressure amid a ruling party feud after 37 years in power.