UK Interview: ED rallies Zimbabwe, rules out unity government

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ZIMBABWE’S president has issued a rallying call to his country to unite behind him and work together to re-build the nation.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former enforcer of long-time leader Robert Mugabe and head of the Zanu-PF party, was on Friday announced as the winner of an election held the previous Monday, with 50.8% of the vote.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has vowed to challenge the result, saying that his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) group won the popular vote.

The party is threatening to challenge the outcome in the courts and have until 10 August to do this.

But speaking to Sky News in his first interview since the election result, Mnangagwa said he wanted to be a “people’s leader, a listening leader, a humble leader and a serving leader”.

He ruled a coalition government with his rivals. Zanu PF was pushed by regional leaders into a unity government with the opposition after the bloody and disputed 2008 elections.

Not this time, said Mnangagwa.

“In 1964 Harold Wilson of Britain had one seat, beating the Conservatives by one seat and he formed Government and ruled England and I have two thirds majority and you are talking about me abandoning my two thirds majority to set a Government of National Unity?

“Not that it’s a bad idea, but it doesn’t show that there is any need. I am saying politics should now take the back seat because the elections are behind us.

“We should now put our shoulders to the wheel for purposes of modernising our economy, growing our economy together. Those who have voted against me, those who voted for me, we say Zimbabwe is ours together.

“Let’s move on. The best argument, the best vision, the best ideas have taken the day.”

Zanu PF party won a two-thirds majority in parliament, prompting fears Mnangagwa would use that to dilute the constitution and roll back new clauses designed to limit presidential terms and strengthen parliamentary powers.

The 2013 constitution limits the president to two terms of five years each and last week’s election followed more than three decades of one man at the country’s helm, Robert Mugabe, who ruled the country since its independence from Britain in 1980.

Mnangagwa has pledged to abide by the letter and spirit of the constitution and relinquish power should he be voted out in future or at the end of a second term if he is re-elected.

Responding to the opposition party’s claims, he added that the election was a “free, fair and transparent process from period of campaigning to the period of the actual voting…everyone has declared the process free, peaceful and transparent”.

He regretted the violence that broke out after the election and before the results were announced, but insisted it had lasted for a single day and much of it was carried out by hooligans.

He added: “We regret the deaths and I am going to instigate an independent commission of inquiry to find out who did what and what went wrong.

The violence, with soldiers and police officers beating and whipping protesters as live bullets being fired into running crowds which saw at least six people killed, sparked fears that Zimbabwe was mired in the past.

But the streets of Harare have been calm for the past two days.