By ZimRights Information Department
RIOTS by supporters of the opposition have erupted in the streets of Harare since midmorning signifying a conflict over the handling of elections and the announcement of presidential results.
Hundreds of opposition supporters on August 1, 2018, protested outside the Rainbow Towers hotel, where the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), has set up its national command centre and from which it has been announcing election results.
ZimRights National Chairperson, Takesure Musiiwa, has called for stakeholders to ensure the preservation of peace in the country.
“We note with concern the unfolding developments, which are drawing the country towards a precipice of conflict. We call for all stakeholders to exercise caution and maintain peace and minimise inflammatory actions and statements,” he said.
“After the elections, Zimbabweans will need to live together in peace and harmony. They will have to work together for the sustainable development of the country. ZEC should expedite its process of verifying and announcing the results to avoid further anxiety.”
The biggest contestation has been about the perceived delayed release of the presidential election results, which the opposition MDC Alliance claims to have won.
By late afternoon, columns of dark smoke were billowing into the sky from the Fourth Street Bus Terminus, north of the Central Business District (CBD), where gunshots were fired by soldiers with live ammunition, which reportedly killed some people and injured others.
Soldiers with AK47 assault rifles in army trucks and police with pressurised water cannons have been deployed in downtown Harare, where they have been firing teargas and chasing after protestors.
Meanwhile, the electoral commission has announced that it is still waiting for some of the presidential candidates’ chief elections agents to come verify and sign the V11 forms which were being used to collate results the polling stations nationwide, before the results can be announced.
Conflict between the electoral commission and the opposition parties – which have been holding protests ahead of the elections – has been simmering over issues to do with transparency with the ballot papers and perceived bias in favour of the ruling party, among other issues.