by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – MILLIONS of Zimbabweans will go to the polls on Monday to elect a new president who will succeed the deposed Robert Mugabe.
More than 5 million voters are expected to cast their ballots in the historic election whose preparations have in recent days been marred by
reports of intimidation and allegations of vote rigging.
Interim president, Emmerson Mnangagwa (75), of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Nelson Chamisa, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance leader, are the front-runners for the presidency.
Some 21 other contestants, including Mugabe’s former deputy, Joice Mujuru, are also contesting. A runoff will be held on September 8 if no candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote.
ZANU-PF and MDC Alliance held their final rallies in the capital Harare
this past weekend.
Mnangagwa and Chamisa both pledged to resurrect an economy that has been battered by decades of misrule by Mugabe.
While preparations for the poll had initially been peaceful, relations
between MDC Alliance and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have soured amid vote rigging claims.
Chamisa nonetheless was upbeat.
“On Monday, the people are voting for genuine change,” Chamisa said at his final rally.
Liz Throssell, spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed concern at reports of intimidation and violence particularly in some rural areas.
“We call on authorities to ensure that the elections are not marred by
such acts so that all Zimbabweans can participate free from fear in a
credible election process,” she said.
Addressing the nation ahead of polls, Mnangagwa reiterated commitments to credible elections.
“The election has been the most open in our history, with hundreds of
international observers in attendance to witness its open processes,” he
Mnangagwa’s administration has invited observers from Western nations, who had been barred since 2002 after accusing Mugabe of electoral fraud and human rights abuses.
A military coup forced Mugabe out of office last November. He had been in power for over 37 years.
– CAJ News