Zimbabwean Polls: All set for August fever pitch

Zimbabwean President President Emmerson Mnangagwa, center, stands next to his chief election agent and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, left, outside the nomination court in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Mnangagwa visited the nomination court where his chief election agent filed papers registering him as a candidate for the national elections that would be held on Aug. 23. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Spread the love

HARARE – The upcoming presidential election in Zimbabwe, scheduled for August 23, will feature President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling ZANU-PF party, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, and former ruling party official Saviour Kasukuwere, who fled the country after a coup in 2017.

The final list of confirmed candidates is yet to be announced by the national electoral agency.

The election is expected to be closely watched, given Zimbabwe’s history of violent and disputed elections. Along with the presidential race, the election will also determine the composition of the parliament and local council positions. If no candidate secures a clear majority in the first round, a runoff will be held on October 2.

President Mnangagwa, 80, is seeking another five-year term and is anticipated to face a strong challenge from Chamisa, whom he narrowly defeated in a disputed election in 2018.

Kasukuwere, a former Cabinet minister and ruling party official, has also registered as a candidate, although it is unclear if he has returned to Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa expressed satisfaction with the election process, claiming that Zimbabwe is now a mature democracy. However, his party has faced accusations of using repressive tactics to suppress opposition. Chamisa has raised concerns about irregularities in the voters’ roll and alleged intimidation of his supporters.

Despite presenting himself as a reformer, Mnangagwa has been criticized by human rights groups for stifling criticism and exacerbating tensions in the country. Zimbabwe has long grappled with economic challenges, including a currency crisis, high food prices, a struggling healthcare system, and a lack of formal employment.

The nation of 15 million people has only had two leaders since gaining independence from white minority rule in 1980—long-time leader Robert Mugabe, who was removed in the 2017 coup and passed away in 2019, and Mnangagwa, who served as Mugabe’s vice president before assuming power.