The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) was on Monday fighting back claims in Zimbabwe that the party’s associates had fuelled post-poll violence in Harare last week, where at least six people were shot dead.
In the wake of the first post-Mugabe elections — whose results have been rejected by opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) — ODM found itself in the mix after police in Harare claimed one of the party’s strategists had incited protesters.
ODM national chairman John Mbadi refuted the claims, saying the party’s only wish across Africa is for peaceful, free and fair elections.
“Raila didn’t run the elections in Zimbabwe. The elections body is responsible for causing unnecessary anxiety by delaying results and being less transparent,” said Mr Mbadi on Monday.
ODM leader Raila Odinga and MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai were great political pals, attending each other’s political events from time to time. When Mr Tsvangirai died earlier this year, Mr Odinga gave a keynote speech at his funeral.
Zimbabwe police had claimed Mr Silas Jakakimba, a supposed ODM strategist, had travelled to Harare as Mr Odinga’s envoy during the elections and incited protesters to reject the poll.
Mr Mbadi said the party and Mr Odinga do not head a government and thus have no machinery to interfere with elections in another country.
“Zanu-PF should have accepted a transparent electoral process and should have refrained from what is now becoming the normal way of life in Africa — the fixing of electoral outcomes by incumbents,” said Mr Mbadi, referring to Zimbabwe’s ruling party.
On Sunday, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga's political aide, Silas Jakakimba, was under the radar of Zimbabwe police following chaos that rocked Harare.
State-owned Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe's leading newspaper, said police in the country are keen to ‘interview’ Mr Jakakimba over the electoral protests.
Yesterday, the Herald accused Mr Odinga of being a bad mentor to Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
“We expected Chamisa to be a democrat by conceding defeat. That way, he would have earned himself respect,” the paper said.
“But he seems to prefer the rogue route of Kenya’s Raila Odinga. What a choice for a political mentor, especially for one so young!” the newspaper wrote.
Chaos broke out in Harare after supporters of the MDC Alliance leader took to the streets in violent protests against the election results.
Zimbabwe police chief spokesperson, Ms Charity Charamba, had told the media: "The Zimbabwe republic police is keen to interview Silas Jakakimba, a Kenyan national, in connection with the disturbances which occurred in Harare on 1 August, 2018.”
On Monday, Mr Jakakimba told the Nation that he was in Harare for three days and left on Tuesday afternoon for Nairobi before violence rocked the city.
"When I left, Harare was normal, folks warm and welcoming, streets busy and skies clear-blue," said Mr Jakakimba.
In the wake of the chaos, rowdy youths attempted to access the Rainbow Towers, where the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission national vote counting centre was based, in a bid to interfere with results announcement process.
Mr Jakakimba denied being a strategist for the MDC Alliance or its presidential candidate.
He explained that Mr Odinga, who has termed the arrest threats as baseless, had asked him to visit Harare to convey his goodwill message to the MDC Alliance at its public rally at the Freedom Square in Harare.
"If you check YouTube footage of the last Harare MDC rally, you will notice Nelson Chamisa informing the mammoth crowd that the Alliance is pleased to welcome goodwill message from Hon Raila Odinga of Kenya, ably represented here by my friend and brother Silas Jakakimba," he added.
In 2012, Mr Tsvangirai was the chief guest at the ODM national convention where Mr Odinga was declared the party’s presidential candidate.