Zimbabweans on Wednesday reacted enviously on social media to news that Nigeria’s former president Goodluck Jonathan had conceded defeat in the country’s landslide elections.
Some Zimbabweans made reference to their own president Robert Mugabe, now 91, who lost the first round of presidential elections in March 2008. Results were delayed for five weeks.
When it was finally confirmed that opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won more votes than Mugabe, supporters of the president, backed by the military, embarked on a campaign of retribution.
According to the official 2008 tally, Tsvangirai’s first round lead over Mugabe was not enough for him to be declared an outright winner. There were strong suspicions however that the figures had been manipulated to deny the MDC leader outright victory. Tsvangirai pulled out of a second round of voting, citing violence against his supporters. Mugabe was eventually pushed by the regional SADC grouping into a power-sharing government that lasted four years.
In contrast, Nigeria’s Jonathan on Tuesday swiftly conceded defeat to Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler. Buhari promised Nigerians that “change has come”.
“Well done Nigeria. Well done Goodluck. Zimbabwe do take note,” tweeted user @LiyaJemima.
“If the Nigerian election had been in Zimbabwe the results would have taken five weeks or more to announce,” said @gidi_gabriel.
The state-owned Herald newspaper, which is the voice of the Mugabe government, carried an agency story on Jonathan’s defeat without comment.
Tsvangirai decided to contest presidential elections in July 2013, even though many electoral reforms he had called for had not been implemented and his party did not have access to the electoral roll. The MDC leader lost to Mugabe, who has been in power in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.