Nelson Chamisa claims MDC has done well, Mnangagwa equally upbeat

31 July, 2018, 13:02 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Emmerson Mnangagwa

"And I represent that", Chamisa said after voting in Harare, surrounded by enthusiastic supporters.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe's former ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the landmark vote for the southern African nation.

Mnangagwa was viewed as the frontrunner, although the latest opinion polls showed a tight race.

President Mnangagwa then went on to put his voting mark on the three ballots for the president, Member of the National Assembly and councillor.

Turn-out was high as the country chooses what could be its fourth leader since gaining independence in 1980.

A credible vote is essential if Zimbabwe is to exit painful sanctions and secure the donor funding and investment needed to stem chronic cash shortages.

Mr Chamisa said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was impeding voting in urban areas where he enjoys strong support, but gave no evidence to back the claim.

"The people's will being negated & undetermined due to these deliberate & unnecessary delays", Chamisa tweeted.

The ZEC was not immediately available to comment.

He indicated that Mr Chamisa was the only viable candidate.

Several global observers said the voting process had been slow at some stations, but it did not appear to them to be intentional.

Elmar Brok, the EU's chief observer, said many voters, particularly young women, left voting queues in frustration at long delays.

Responding to questions from journalists after casting his votes at Sherwood Primary School just outside Kwekwe, President Mnangagwa said he was happy with the peaceful manner in which the electoral process was unfolding.

A contested result is likely to lead to street protests and possible violence.

If no candidate wins more than half the votes, there will be a runoff in five weeks, though analysts believe this scenario is unlikely.

The elections have been opened up to global observers, though the opposition has voiced concerns that the voter roll has irregularities and claimed that the army has been deployed to rural areas in an attempt to intimidate people to vote for the ruling ZANU-PF.

During the run up to the polls, all political parties and candidates had been campaigning freely across the country without any hindrance. "We should all be part of it", Mnangagwa said in the grim message.

The run-up to the presidential and parliamentary election has been peaceful compared to previous polls but there are reports of intimidation and coercion in rural constituencies, and state media is biased towards the ruling ZANU-PF party. "My main concern is the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, it obviously has a preferred party", he said.

The President had time to chat with the polling officers, inquiring on how many people were allocated to vote at the polling station.

But he has lived in obscurity since he stepped down under military pressure in November.

I cannot vote for those who have tormented me, no I can't!

A frail Mugabe, accompanied by his wife, Grace, shuffled into the polling booth and spent several minutes filling in his ballot paper with the help of an assistant.

He had earlier told a cheering crowd as he cast his vote: "Victory is certain, the people have spoken", reported Reuters news agency.


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