Ending months of uncertainty, Zimbabwe on Wednesday set the date for presidential elections, renewing the prospect of a battle between iron-fisted incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition hopeful Nelson Chamisa. Elections for the president, National Assembly and local government will take place on August 23, the government’s official record, the gazette, said. Eighty-year-old Mnangagwa, who replaced strongman ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017 after a military-led coup, heads the ruling ZANU-PF party, which has been in power since independence in 1980. His main challenger is Nelson Chamisa, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor, who leads the recently formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party and narrowly lost to Mnangagwa in 2018. Analysts are bracing for a tense ballot in a country where discontent at entrenched poverty, power cuts and other shortages runs deep. Rights groups and opposition parties have complained of a clampdown ahead of the vote. After the election date was revealed, the CCC urged supporters to register to vote. “This is a crucial step in playing your part in shaping the future of our country,” the party said on Twitter. In 2018 Mnangagwa, dubbed “the Crocodile” for his political cunning, won a violence-stained election with 50.8 percent of the vote. The result was denounced as fraud by Chamisa, who at the time led the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-Alliance). The ruling party won 145 out of 210 seats contested in the lower house, the National Assembly, which are directly elected on a first-past-the-post basis. The MDC-Alliance got 63 seats, and two seats were taken by independents. Another 60 seats are reserved for women appointed through a party-list system of proportional representation. The senate comprises 80 members with 60 appointed through proportional representation, 18 traditional chiefs who are generally loyal to ZANU-PF, and two representatives of people with disabilities.
June 22, 2023
June 22, 2023