Zimbabweans on Monday voted in the country’s first election since former President Robert Mugabe was ousted in November 2017. Voting was held amid allegations of rigging and fraud, reported Reuters.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former ally and head of the ruling ZANU-PF party, is up against Nelson Chamisa of the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change. People will also elect 210 members of Parliament and more than 9,000 councillors.
Chamisa claimed that the Zimbabwe Election Commission was interfering with voting in urban areas where he enjoys support. “There seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress and frustrate the urban vote,” he tweeted. But he gave no proof supporting his allegations, reported Reuters. The election commission has earlier denied Chamisa’s claims of bias.
Long queues of voters were seen outside polling stations when they opened at 7 am, reported The Guardian. “This election is free,” said 20-year-old Tinashe Musuwo. “Things will get better now.” Another voter, 28-year-old Tawanda Petru who is unemployed, told AFP that he would be voting for Chamisa and for change. “I have to see a better Zimbabwe for my kids,” he said. “Things have been tough.”
Mnangagwa, 75, has promised a fresh start. He enjoys covert military support, backing of a loyal state media and a party that controls government resources, according to AFP. Meanwhile, 40-year-old Chamisa enjoys support from the youth.
In a press conference at his residence on Sunday, Mugabe, 94, said he would vote for the opposition MDC. “I cannot vote for the party or those in power who caused me to be in this condition,” he said. “I cannot vote for them, I can’t.”
Mnangagwa denied Mugabe’s claim that the vote would not be free as it was being run by a “military government”, said Reuters. “I can assure you that this country is enjoying democratic space which has never been experienced before,” he said after voting.