Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF leader Mnangagagwa elected president
Zimbabweans line up to vote at the Fitchela primary school in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, July 30. | Jerome Delay/AP

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zanu-PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa thanked voters today for electing him Zimbabwe’s new president. In a message to the nation after his victory with 50.8 percent of the vote, Mnangagwa called on the people to build a new country together and said despite the division at the polls ”we are united in our dreams.”

The president of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party had as a main contender the 40-year-old lawyer Nelson Chamisa, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change alliance, which won the support of 44.3 percent of the electorate.

According to the final estimates issued by Priscilla Chigumga, the president of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Mnangagwa received 2,460,463 votes while Chamisa had 2,147,436.

The African Union said the elections were “free and fair” while observers from the Southern African Development Community said they were peaceful and in accordance with the law.

International observers from the U.S. and EU were allowed into the country for the first time in 16 years and were expected to release their reports on the parliamentary and presidential elections shortly.

The elections were the first to be held since former president Robert Mugabe was ousted after nearly four decades in power. Zanu-PF has ruled this Southern African country since its independence in 1980, after a long struggle against the racist white minority regime of Ian Smith who was Prime Minister of what was then called Rhodesia.

Smith once promised that white rule in Africa would endure for 1,000 years. His regime was characterized by severe repression, detention without trial, a secret police and, later, martial law. A seven-year guerrilla war cost about 30,000 lives, most of them black fighters and civilians. Mr. Mugabe was one of many black nationalists jailed for years by the white authorities under emergency powers.

“Rhodesia” was named after Cecil Rhodes, financier and empire builder of British South Africa. He was prime minister of Cape Colony (1890–1896) and organizer of the giant diamond-mining company De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd.

Zimbabwe has abundant natural resources including gold, coal, iron ore, chromium ore, vanadium, asbestos, nickel, copper, lithium, tin, and platinum group metals.

In this election, the long-standing political organization Zanu-PF obtained an important victory in the National Parliament by reaching 140 out of 210 seats, which represents an absolute majority in it.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced 110 seats for Zanu-PF so far and 41 for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance in the 210 seat National Assembly.

MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the endorsement of its candidate by the disgraced former president had cost them votes.

Much mainstream reporting has focused on the personal intrigues and power struggles involving former President Mugabe and his wife Grace Mugabe. The long history of Zimbabwe, which prior to 1980 was an apartheid state known as Rhodesia and before that a British colonial possession, has been little noted. But the roots of the Zimbabwean crisis include the legacy of colonialism and the results of a neoliberal restructuring program ordered by IMF-World Bank in the 1990s.

In November of 2017, the South African Communist Party noted: It is clear that Zimbabwe will never be the same again. The fundamental challenges facing the Zimbabwean revolution and its people remain. Key among these are overcoming the colonial legacy and transforming the economy. Cutting across these issues is the challenge and urgency to rebuild the national liberation movement and re-root it amongst the masses of the people.

Sources for this article include Prensa Latina, Morning Star, and SACP. People’s World’s Barbara Russum contributed to this article.