Oozing confidence and cracking jokes, incumbent President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday told local and international media that he will win the tightly-contested elections.
“I have done my duty as a citizen of the country to decide who should be president of this country. I made a decision that I know him,” Mnangagwa addressed a scrum of journalists who mobbed him as he walked out of the polling station at Sherwood Primary in Kwekwe, a city in central Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa said with almost seven million Zimbabweans registered to vote in Wednesday’s polls, he hoped that the turnout would be higher, and with much participation from the youth.
Asked if he believed he would win, a cheerful Mnangagwa retorted: “If I think I am not going to take it, then I would be foolish. Everyone who contests … if you go into a race, you go into a race to win. Precisely that is what I am doing”.
The 80-year-old Mnangagwa who has led Zimbabwe since the 2017 ouster of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe who had governed the landlocked Southern African nation for 37 years, on Wednesday emphasised on peace.
“Peace, peace, peace and non-violence during, before and after (voting). Peace, peace,” said Mnangagwa.
Earlier on Wednesday, IOL reported that long, snaking queues were seen at several polling stations in Harare, as Zimbabweans lined up to participate in the tightly contested general elections.
Journalist: President did you vote for yourself? 😂 pic.twitter.com/kAnXUjIrOZ
— Nick Mangwana (@nickmangwana) August 23, 2023
This is the country’s second general election since the removal of Mugabe.
IOL has established that the majority of the more than 12,000 polling stations across Zimbabwe opened at the scheduled 7am, with snaking queues of eager voters. There are, however, some reports on social media indicating delays in polling stations opening.
A total of 6.6 million Zimbabweans have registered to vote, in a country with a population of more than 15 million.
On the ballot paper, battle lines have been drawn between the governing party, Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) led by Mnangagwa and its arch-rival, the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party led by Nelson Chamisa.
The ballot box features nearly a dozen presidential candidates, but according to political analysts, the contest will be between the two main political parties as the two political leaders rekindle their rivalry after Chamisa lost to Mnangagwa in the previous 2018 elections.