Early voting begins in Zimbabwe, here’s what you need to know

Voting in Zimbabwe’s 2023 General election begun at 7am and will run until 7pm with 6.6 million registered voters expected to participate in the exercise across 12,340 polling stations in its 10 provinces to elect a President, Members of Parliament and councilors.

This is the ninth general election since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.

Ten Presidential candidates among them one woman are on the ballot after official opposition leader Douglas Mwonzora of Movement for Democratic Change, MDC-T withdrew from the race claiming lack of conducive environment for a free, fair and transparent election.

45 year old Nelson Chamisa of Citizens Coalition for Change-CCC who is an advocate and a pastor is the main opposition candidate.

The incumbent President Emerson Mnangagwa 80 who is seeking a second term, came to power in 2018 following the ouster of late President Robert Mugabe by military generals in November 2017. Mugabe had been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.

The presidential election is a political rematch between the incumbent Mnangagwa and Chamisa who came second in 2018 with 44.3% while Mnangagwa was announced winner with 50.8% which was disputed.

According to Zimbabwe constitution, a winner must obtain 50% of votes cast failure to which a repeat election between top two candidates shall be held within sixty days. In 2008, a repeat election was held between President Robert Mugabe and official opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after the first round failed to yield a 50% threshold. Tsvangirai had won the first round with 47.8% with Mugabe landing 43.2%. However, Tsvangirai pulled out of the repeat poll following massive violence that marred the election process.

Key issues in the election are the economy, chocking inflation which stands at 176% as of June,unemployment and fate of Zimbabwe dollar which was reintroduced in 2019 after a decade of dolarization and has depreciated by more than 80% now. One US$ is equivalent to 3000 Zimbabwe dollars.

Incumbent President Emerson Mnangagwa who served in Mugabe administration as minister then later as vice president from 2013 to 2017 before being declared winner in 2018 tight contest, says his government has created many opportunities in the economy leading to heavy investments in key sectors of mining and agriculture and wants to build more on that.

On the other hand, youthful Chamisa is promising to resuscitate the ailing economy,fight corruption and end Zimbabwe’s isolation by returning it to the international community of nations. Various sanctions were imposed on mineral rich Southern Africa country during Mugabe’s reign.

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