Friday , June 14 2024

Polls Open in Zimbabwe as President Mnangagwa Contests for Second Term

On Wednesday, voting began in Zimbabwe as President Emmerson Mnangagwa ran for a second and last term in a nation with a long history of unrest and contested elections.

These are the second general elections held following the coup that toppled Robert Mugabe, a longstanding authoritarian ruler, in 2017.

Twelve presidential candidates are on the ballot, but the main contest is expected to be between the 80-year-old Mnangagwa, known as the “the crocodile”, and 45-year-old opposition leader Nelson Chamisa. Mnangagwa narrowly beat Chamisa in a disputed election in 2018.

Chamisa wants to end the 43-year rule of the ZANU-PF party. Since breaking free from the control of the white minority in 1980, Zimbabwe has only had two presidents.

A group of grandmothers in rural Zimbabwe fights back against WhatsApp bias and alleged election intimidation.

If no candidate receives a clear majority of the vote in the first round, a runoff election will be place on October 2. Additionally, the 350-seat parliament and about 2,000 local council positions will be filled by this election.

Some voters arrived at polling places in some impoverished neighborhoods of the city, Harare, two hours before voting began out of concern over huge queues.

“It’s becoming tougher to survive in this country,” said Basil Chendambuya, 50, an early voter in the working-class township of KuwadzanaI in Harare. “I am hoping for change. This is my third time to vote and I am praying hard that this time my vote counts. I am getting desperate, so God has to intervene this time round.” The father of three said his two adult children are working menial jobs and surviving “hand to mouth.”

The 15 million-person country in southern Africa boasts a wealth of mineral resources, including the continent’s greatest reserves of lithium, an essential ingredient in the production of electric vehicle batteries. The potential of the nation, however, has allegedly been severely undermined by rampant corruption and poor management for a long time.

Prior to the election, the opposition and human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, accused Mnangagwa of trying to stifle dissent in the face of mounting tensions brought on by a currency crisis, a dramatic increase in food prices, a deteriorating public health system, and a dearth of formal jobs.

Mnangagwa cast his ballot at Kwekwe, his hometown, and declared himself to be the winner. He urged people to vote peacefully by saying, “If I think I am not going to take it, then I will be foolish.”

Mnangagwa was a close friend and vice president of Mugabe before he was ousted in advance of the 2017 coup. Although he has attempted to present himself as a reformer, many claim that he is much more authoritarian than the leader he assisted in toppling.

Because of claims of violations of human rights, which the ruling party has consistently denied, Zimbabwe has been subject to sanctions from the US and EU for the past 20 years. Much of Mugabe’s rhetoric against the West, accusing it of trying to overthrow his government, has been echoed by Mnangagwa in recent years.

Officials and state-run media have criticised foreign observers from the EU and the US before of elections for supposedly being prejudiced against the ruling party.

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