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Deadly violence simmers in Zimbabwe over unresolved election

In Zimbabwe, at least three people were killed amid demonstrations against what protesters see as the rigging of Monday's presidential election. Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News reports from Harare, then William Brangham learns more from Jonga Kandemiri of Voice of America.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    At least three people died today as demonstrators took to the streets of Zimbabwe's capital to protest what they see as the rigging of Monday's presidential election.

    The sitting president and leader of the ZANU-PF Party, Emmerson Mnangagwa, ran against a number of other candidates, including the leading challenger, Nelson Chamisa.

    In a moment, William Brangham will talk with a reporter from Zimbabwe, but first we get the latest from the capital, Harare, from Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News.

  • Jonathan Miller:

    "If you sell out," they chant, "you will see that we are very dangerous."

    It's a threat directed at the head of Zimbabwe's electoral commission, who promised that the will of the people will not be subverted. They think that's a lie.

    Well, you can see what's happening here. There's a lot of anger on the streets, and the results of the presidential election hasn't even been called. So far, with the parliamentary results coming it, it looks like a ZANU-PF landslide. If these people are denied what they consider to be their victory, it will be chaos.

    Should you not wait until you have an actual result?

  • Man:

    No, we are not going to wait for that.

  • Jonathan Miller:

    The movement for democratic change already smells a rat. Mugabe stole elections. They are not going to let that happen this time and they are convinced the results were rigged.

    We moved with the surging crowd. Rocks were thrown into the compound of the ruling ZANU-PF Party, and this was the response.

    (GUNSHOTS)

  • Jonathan Miller:

    Get down, get down, get down, get down, get down. Behind the tree.

    (GUNFIRE)

  • Jonathan Miller:

    This is potentially disastrous for the new Zimbabwe.

    This way.

  • Man:

    Hey, journalists, can we go?

  • Man:

    Journalists.

  • Man:

    Can we go?

  • Man:

    Journalist. Journalist.

  • Man:

    Ray, come with me.

  • Jonathan Miller:

    This country so desperate to shed pariah status.

    This is now an extremely dangerous situation. There's a lot of live fire going on, but this crowd will not be subdued. They are still outside the ZANU-PF headquarters here, and they are so angry.

    Elsewhere in Harare, protesters caught by the army were severely beaten, this scene hauntingly reminiscent of the violence that characterized Mugabe's despotic rule.

    As the afternoon wore on, the crackle of automatic fire could be heard sporadically across the city. Riot police fired tear gas and soldiers were deployed as armored personnel carriers and water cannon cruised the streets, and an army helicopter kept watch from above.

    This evening, streets of this capital had been emptied. It's spookily quiet, and it's tense. No word from either presidential contender, other than on Twitter. Nelson Chamisa, the challenger, still claiming victory. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the incumbent, calling, ironically, for everyone to act peacefully.

    The results, we're told, will be announced tomorrow.

  • William Brangham:

    For more insight to what's going on with the election results, I'm joined by Jonga Kandemiri. He's a reporter who files for Voice of America. He's based in Zimbabwe.

    Jonga, thank you very much for being here.

    Could you give us a little bit more a sense of what is driving these protests?

  • Jonga Kandemiri:

    What's driving these protests, William, is the slowness by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

    The opposition members think that ZEC is manipulating the results — ZEC is the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission — by delaying to announce election results from within the metropolitan — metropolitan constituencies.

    Instead, they started by announcing from far away in rural — remote rural areas. And these areas are dominated by the ruling party, ZANU-PF.

    And I think this is what triggered the demonstrations that took place this afternoon.

  • William Brangham:

    So, people's concern seem to be that, because it's taking so long, the think that there is some foul play going on, that the election results are being rigged somehow.

  • Jonga Kandemiri:

    That's true.

    And, also, they are saying their candidate, the presidential candidate that they advocate, Nelson Chamisa, they think that he won resoundingly. But the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is yet to announce presidential results.

    What it did starting yesterday was to announce National House of Assembly results from remote areas, and only today did they announce the results from the cities.

  • William Brangham:

    I understand that there were also complaints about the lead-up to the election, with accusations of voters being coerced and pressure being exerted.

    What are election observers in Zimbabwe saying?

  • Jonga Kandemiri:

    They gave a presentment on what they found or discovered during this electoral process.

    In a way, they endorsed the election as peaceful, but they have recommendations which they sent to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. And one of them is to allow enough time for the inspection and verification of the voters roll.

    That is one of the areas voters where the opposition was complaining that they only got the voters roll in electronic mode two days before election — the nomination.

  • William Brangham:

    We saw that three people have already died in these protests. What is it like there now, and is it your sense that the protests will continue tomorrow?

  • Jonga Kandemiri:

    I think the protests will continue tomorrow.

    But there's heavy presence of anti-riot police officers and the military on the streets. I tried to stroll down the streets to check on the conditions and situation on the streets.

    The army and the police, it was chasing out people. So I'm not sure that those who are demonstrating will be able to gather in the city, unless they gather outside the city, and then they come and demonstrate. But I think the police and the military are ready to deal with that.

  • William Brangham:

    All right, Jonga Kandemiri, thank you very much for your time.

  • Jonga Kandemiri:

    Welcome, William. Thank you so much.

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