Security agencies continued a crackdown on opposition activists in Zimbabwe on Sunday, less than three days after historic presidential elections won by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the leader of the ruling Zanu-PF party. Human rights groups reported dozens of abductions, beatings and rapes carried out by unidentified men overnight in the centre and north-eastern areas of the former British colony. The wave of repression began on Friday night with the army moving through neighbourhoods in Harare, the capital, and satellite towns, targeting supporters and officials of the opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). An MDC spokesman said thousands of its members were now in hiding. “The nature of an abduction means we can’t tell who has gone, but we have lots of people missing. We have helped five people who narrowly escaped abduction to flee Zimbabwe. Others we are hiding in safe houses. There is intimidation and atrocious treatment of people who they catch,” Nkululeko Sibanda, an MDC spokesman, said.
On Monday, millions voted in the first election since Robert Mugabe, now 94, was ousted last November after 37 years in power. The rise in violence since has come as a huge disappointment to those who hoped the brutality associated with Mugabe’s rule would disappear with him.
Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old former spy chief and Zanu-PF party stalwart, won with 50.8% of the vote, narrowly avoiding a runoff with the 40-year-old MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa.
Chamisa, a former pastor and lawyer, who won 44.3% of the vote, according to election officials, has called the polls “fraudulent and illegitimate”.