HARARE — Zimbabwe will hold its next general election on Aug. 23, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said.
Mnangagwa, 80, has already been endorsed by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front to seek second and final term as leader of the southern African nation. His main challenger is likely to be Nelson Chamisa, the 45-year-old leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change.
Since coming to power with assistance from the army after former President Robert Mugabe was forced to resign in 2017, Mnangagwa has struggled to revive the ailing economy. The currency has plunged, interest rates are the world’s highest and the annual inflation rate is 87%.
Read: Zimbabwe Adopts New Inflation Gauge to Show Increased Dollar Use
Besides choosing the president, voters will also cast ballots for 80 senators and 270 members of the National Assembly. Previous elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by violence and allegations of rigging.
In Statutory Instrument 85 of 2023, Mnangagwa also set aside October 2 as the day of the runoff election to the office of President.
“Now, therefore, under and by virtue of the powers vested in the President as aforesaid, I do, by this proclamation….fix the 23rd day of August, 2023, as the day of the election to the office of President, the election of members of the National Assembly and election of councillors,” read SI 85.
“That is to say, as the day on which a poll shall be taken if a poll becomes necessary in terms of section 46(17)(c) or 125(4)(b) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13] for the election to the office of President or any such members of the National Assembly or councillors;
“And (e) fix the 2nd day of October, 2023, as the day of the runoff election to the office of President, that is to say as the day on which a poll shall be taken if such a poll becomes necessary in terms of section 38(1)(a)(iii) of the Electoral Act.
The nomination court will sit on June 21 in the High Court to register candidates.
Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa has said the continued delay by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to announce the election date clearly indicates that he is scared of losing the plebiscite.
Speaking yesterday immediately after checking for his name in the voters roll in Kuwadzana 2, Harare, Chamisa said his party was ready to roll over Mnangagwa, whom he accused of grabbing power through a 2017 military-assisted coup, and later rigging the 2018 poll.
He described Mnangagwa’s rule since 2017 as characterised by darkness and unhappiness.
“Mr Mnangagwa obviously has a problem with his legal team which is not advising him properly. I’m not sure if he has a date. I suspect that he is scared of this election. The truth of the matter is that the people of Zimbabwe know what they want, and there is going to be change in this country, he will try to manipulate, but the people of Zimbabwe will not allow it, we will not allow it because he has to follow the Constitution and it says it (election) has to be in August, but now the days are limited and we know that it has to be mid-or end of August so that we start planning,” Chamisa said.
Last week, Mnangagwa said he would announce the election date on Monday, but has gone mum over the issue with his spokesperson George Charamba telling State media on Monday that “the date would be announced in due course”.
Information deputy minister Kindness Paradza yesterday rubbished Chamisa’s claims saying Mnangagwa had no reason to be scared of elections.
“The President has never been scared of any election; this is why we are prepared as the ruling party. So far we have done away with the primaries and we have equipped our members for parliamentary candidates to make sure that we campaign vigorously and win resoundingly in these coming elections,” Paradza said.
“The President is within his constitutional boundaries in terms of announcing the election date which he is going to announce any day. His administration has done so well in the past five years such that he has nothing to worry about.”
Turning to the issue of whether or not CCC will boycott the upcoming elections, Chamisa said: “We will not boycott ourselves, we are the elections.”
“Our institutions such as Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) must be able to be accountable to the people of Zimbabwe because all authority is derived from the people. I am happy that people are coming to check their names, but the only concern is that Mr Mnangagwa continues to duck and dive on election date.
“People have to plan, and those in the diaspora have to come back, while international investors have to plan around the election date. We also have to plan. We are not asdisorganised as Mr Mnangagwa. We want these dates known ahead of time, and it’s an issue that we continue to raise.”
Chamisa said the Constitution must be amended to ensure that people know the date, month and time for elections in advance so that they are able to plan ahead.
“We also have a problem with the voters roll itself, and our perennial challenge is that the voters roll must be a voters roll that people agree on and agree to. The voters roll must be audited, analysable, searchable and of course signed off by various political players and various stakeholders. Any voters roll that is not credible will not be acceptable. Zec must be ready, as it seems that they are not ready especially looking at the voters roll and that it is shambolic. This must be resolved urgently,” he said.
The CCC leader said his party had approached Zec to seek recourse, but was told that the electoral body would respond to their concerns in writing.
“Citizens have a right to recourse,” he said. “The voters roll must be known by all that are participating, and why would Zec want to change what people have indicated as their places or polling stations of voting? If we are to have a credible voters roll, people should be able to know where they will be voting.”
He also said electoral reforms were critical to ensuring an undisputed election outcome.
“People are being persecuted by Zanu-PF structures, by a shadowy and a spooky organisation called Faz (Forever Associates Zimbabwe) — that is worrisome. We want the government to come out in the open to say what this organisation called Faz is. We have the CIO, we know it, we have the army, we know the police and they have constitutional roles to make sure there is law and order in this country, but this Faz is an animal that is a big problem.”
Chamisa described Faz as a goblin tormenting people in rural areas, adding that Mnangagwa must be accountable for the illegally bringing in Faz.
“As a political party we will take all legal measures necessary to bring Faz to account,” he said.