A newly formed opposition party won the majority of parliamentary seats in Zimbabwe’s hotly contested by-elections held on Saturday.
The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), registered in January this year, won 19 seats out of 28 national assembly seats. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu PF got the remaining nine seats in what was dubbed a “mini general election” because of the large number of seats up for grabs.
Partial results also showed that the CCC, led by 44-year-old Nelson Chamisa, was headed for a landslide victory in 122 local government elections held concurrently with the parliamentary polls.
Zimbabwe had delayed the by-elections since 2020 following a ban on polls due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The parliamentary and local government vacancies arose after a faction of the country’s then-largest opposition party MDC Alliance whose 2018 presidential election candidate was Mr Chamisa, was controversially allowed to recall elected representatives.
Mr Chamisa moved to form CCC after his group was stripped of State funding, party headquarters and other properties.
“The by-election has shown that ultimately all authority comes from the citizens,” the opposition leader wrote on Twitter following his party’s victory.
“Citizens are above politicians and their foolish politics,” he added. “Why did you waste national resources and taxpayers’ money?
“Would these resources not have been deployed to better our health and education sectors?”
In the run-up to the polls, seen as a dry run for next year’s general elections, CCC drew large crowds at rallies often disrupted by security forces.
Police stopped Mr Chamisa from holding four major rallies ahead of the by-elections citing that President Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF had campaign activities within the vicinity of the proposed venues.
There was also widespread violence against CCC supporters by State security agents and Zanu PF members during the campaigns.