Fake news and propaganda abound while votes are counted in Zimbabwe

Fake news and propaganda abound while votes are counted in Zimbabwe

Fake news and propaganda abound while votes are counted in Zimbabwe

The run-up to Monday's vote was largely peaceful compared to past elections under Mugabe, where the ruling party and veterans of the 1970s independence struggle were accused of violence against opponents.

"Winning resoundingly... We've done exceedingly well", he said on Twitter after the landmark vote on Monday, adding "We are ready to form the next (government)".

A total of 75% of registered voters who participated in the Zimbabwe's tightly-contested elections yesterday, show that top presidential contenders - Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zanu PF) and Nelson Chamisa (MDC Alliance) - are reportedly in a neck-to-neck race, with the first batch of results expected this morning.

Zimbabwe's generals shocked the world previous year when they seized control and ushered in Mnangagwa after Mugabe allegedly groomed Grace succeed him.

"I can not vote for ZANU-PF", Mugabe said.

"Overall (there was) a huge amount of voting - especially young people, mostly in a very good atmosphere, generally peaceful, which is positive", he added.

"While investors remain sceptical over whether Mugabe's former right-hand man has indeed turned over a new leaf, Mnangagwa's charm offensive with Western governments and businesses has at least given him a credible lifeline at the poll", said Verisk Maplecrodt analyst Charles Laurie in a note.

Mr Mugabe also denied that, as president, he had planned to hand the leadership to his wife, Grace, saying it was "utter nonsense".

Mugabe's long-term ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, Emmerson Mnangagwa, known for his political style as the Crocodile, took over.

Mr Mugabe addressed the nation for the first time since stepping down in November and declared that "I will not vote for those who have illegally taken power".

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"I have during all this time liked our return to conditionality, our return to legality, an environment in which our people are free", Mugabe told reporters. "He is a citizen".

Mugabe, 94, who was ousted by the military in November, made a surprise intervention on the eve of the elections, calling for voters to throw ZANU-PF out of office.

"We need peace and we need everyone to be comfortable to go out and exercise their right to vote without fear", said Priscilla Chigumba, a judge who chairs the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Elections during Mugabe's authoritarian rule were often marred by fraud and violence, and this year's campaign has been dominated by accusations that the vote would also be rigged.

A recent Afrobarometer survey of 2,400 people put Mnangagwa on 40 per cent and Chamisa on 37 per cent, with 20 per cent undecided.

Mnangagwa, who is accused of involvement in election violence and fraud under Mugabe, has vowed to hold a fair vote and invited in global observers - including the previously-banned European Union team.

As such, President Mnangagwa said, the world was free to come and witness democracy being practised at its highest level during Zimbabwe's harmonised polls.

Chamisa on Monday said there was an attempt to "suppress and frustrate" the vote in urban areas where he has strong support.

Mnangagwa voted with his family in his hometown of Kwekwe in the Midlands province.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission said on Tuesday there was no rigging or cheating in the first national election since the end of Robert Mugabe's almost four-decade rule.

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