Zimbabwe woke to the news that Mnangagwa, a former ally of Robert Mugabe, had won the historic first polls since the autocrat’s ousting last year with 50.8 percent of the vote, according to the electoral commission.
The narrow margin is just enough to avoid a run-off against opposition leader Nelson Chamisa that would have been called if Mnangagwa had won less than 50 percent of the vote.
Chamisa dismissed what he called the election’s “unverified fake results”.
“ZEC must release proper & verified results endorsed by parties,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to the Zimbabwe Election Commission.
“The level of opaqueness, truth deficiency, moral decay & values deficit is baffling.”
Mnangagwa, who was chosen as Mugabe’s successor in the ruling ZANU-PF party after he was removed in a brief military intervention in November, hailed his victory as a “new beginning” for Zimbabwe.
“Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams,” he said on Twitter.
Opposition allegations of foul play had already sparked a deadly crackdown on protesters in the capital Harare on Wednesday when troops opened fire, killing six.
Soldiers and police had cleared the city centre Thursday as the government vowed not to tolerate any more protests, but on Friday the streets were crowded with their usual traffic and commuters were heading to work as normal.
An army truck and water cannon were however parked outside MDC headquarters.
Celebrations by ZANU-PF supporters were also muted, though in the suburb of Mbare music blared from a car covered with party posters.
“This is a new Zimbabwe, we are happy,” said Tendai Mugadzi, a 32-year-old IT specialist.
He was not worried that Mnangagwa had won by only the slimmest of margins, adding: “It just shows that this was a free and fair election.”