The peace and calm referred to in Zimbabwe, right through to the long-awaited Election Day, Monday, ended abruptly Wednesday when opposition supporters demanding release of results from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), clashed with the once beloved army, in the streets of Harare.
Meanwhile, Emmerson Mnangagwa, incumbent president and ZANU-PF's leader, said on Thursday he was in talks with the opposition to find ways to defuse the situation.
The government has since pushed the blame on the MDC Alliance while the opposition party accuses ZEC and ZanuPF of conniving to rig elections which it believes it won convincingly.
"We are obviously very pleased that the results announced by ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] so far show that we achieved more than two thirds majority in the parliamentary elections", said Paul Mangwana, the ZANU-PF secretary for legal affairs.
When Zec announced that Zanu-PF had won the parliamentary vote by a landslide on Wednesday, things turned nasty.
FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa casts his ballot as he votes in the general election at Sherwood Park Primary School in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe July 30, 2018.
In an indication of the growing tension, a crowd of about 100 MDC supporters gathered outside a Harare hotel where election results were being announced but police blocked the entrance to the building, a Reuters witness said.
The military deployment was the first time that soldiers had appeared in the streets of the capital since Mugabe's departure in November. Nine out of 10 workers are without a job, unions said, and banks have restricted the withdrawal of US dollars, the country's dominant currency since 2009.
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Those killed were supporters of opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa, who were demonstrating amid claims the recent election had been rigged.
The opposition supporters were are also angered by the delay in announcing the presidential results.
Commonwealth observers also on Thursday accused the Zimbabwe security forces of using excessive force on protesters.
President Mnangagwa blamed the MDC Alliance leadership for the "violence and hooliganism", and ordered it to recall its protestors.
"The opposition. have perhaps interpreted our understanding to be weak, and I think they are testing our resolve and I think they are making a big mistake". At one point, the relatives blocked hospital staff from wheeling the body to the mortuary and demanded a police explanation; a plainclothes officer said they could return Thursday to pick up the body after a police investigation. "They have to go, they have to go, the ZANU-PF regime", said a 23-year-old who gave his name only as Elliott.
The regional SADC bloc, in its preliminary report, said Wednesday that the campaign and election had "proceeded in a peaceful and orderly manner and were largely in line" in Zimbabwean law.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Zimbabwe's politicians to exercise restraint, while United Kingdom foreign office minister Harriett Baldwin said she was "deeply concerned" by the violence. We won this election.
"We won the popular vote (and) will defend it", Chamisa wrote on Twitter.
Mnangagwa, Mugabe's former right-hand man, was the clear election front-runner, benefitting from tacit military support and control of state resources.