VIGILANT: Members of the Zimbabwe police in their vehicles gathered outside the opposition MDC Alliance headquarters in Harare yesterday. At least six people were killed during protests after the Zimbabwe Army deployed soldiers, who fired live bullets at protesters believed to be supporters of the MDC. Its leader Nelson Chamisa was quoted as saying the elections were rigged.Picture: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA-EFE/African News Agency (ANA)

The number of fatalities in the violence that marred Zimbabwe's elections rose from three to six, after some of the injured succumbed to gunshot wounds at various hospitals in the capital city of Harare.
Harare was a ghost town yesterday in the aftermath of the army shooting dead MDC Alliance supporters.

They were party of a group that torched cars in protest to what was until then a peaceful election process.

Zimbabwe's police spokesperson Charity Charamba confirmed the death toll in the wake of the violence.

Business in the capital came to a complete standstill yesterday, as Zimbabweans anxiously waited for the presidential results.

Shops were closed and offices shut down, as the police patrolled the streets.

Transport in and out of city was limited, as tax drivers fearing violence, stayed away.

Although the military, which fired live bullets at protesters on Wednesday resulting in the six deaths and 40 injuries, maintained a low profile, they could be seen strategically stationed on the street corners.

Charamba expressed regret at the loss of life, after appealing for tolerance in the elections that started off smoothly, before degenerating into a bloodbath.

Trouble started when the MDC disputed Zanu-PF's landslide two-thirds majority victory in the parliamentary poll.

“It is with profound regret that I announce that the number of people who died in the carnage has risen from three to six, and that 40 people were injured. We have also made 18 arrests,” Charamba said.

She added that they were still keen to interview some of the MDC leaders, including the former finance minister Tendai Biti.

Biti has been blamed for being part of the opposition leaders who incited the violence, after proclaiming that the MDC had won the elections.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his government had engaged the presidential MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to stabilise the tension in the country.

Mnangagwa tweeted: “Together, we must lead by example and show all Zimbabweans that peace is paramount. This land is home to all of us, and we will sink or swim together.

“We have been in discussions with Nelson Chamisa about how to immediately diffuse the situation, and we must maintain this dialogue in order to protect the peace we all hold dear.”

The Zimbabwe president also called for calm, and said an impartial team would investigate what transpired to disrupt the watershed post-Robert Mugabe polls.

“We believe in transparency and accountability, and those responsible should be identified and brought to justice,” he said.

The Commonwealth Observer Mission blamed the MDC for the violence, but also strongly denounced the Zimbabwe military for using excessive force to disperse the protesters.

The Commonwealth Mission’s leader and former Ghanaian president, John Dramani Mahama, called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the presidential race results without further delay in order to avert more violence.

ZEC commissioner Qhubani Moyo said the electoral body would release the results province by province, staring last night.

“Zimbabwe has 10 provinces and we will begin to release the results later tonight (Thursday). We hope to at least announce how five of those provinces voted and conclude the process on Friday (today),” said Moyo.

Political analyst Blessing Miles Tendi said he expected the results to follow a similar pattern of the parliamentary outcome that gave Zanu-PF a resounding victory.

He expected Mnangagwa to win the presidential race.