Zimbabwe Elections: Voting underway as Chamisa takes on Mnangagwa


Polls have opened this morning in Zimbabwe where 45-year-old opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) wants to unseat President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, of the Zanu-PF.

Al Jazeera reported that voting has started at more than 12,300 polling stations where voters are required to check that their name is registered before queuing at the appropriate voting station. Reports show that some polling stations were yet to open two hours after opening time due to logistical challenges.

The day has been declared a holiday to allow the 6.62 million registered voters a chance cast a ballot

Diana Office, a woman in her thirties, told Al Jazeera that she arrived two hours before polls were due to open to avoid queues.

“It’s important for me to vote,” she said. Asked if she was hopeful things would improve after the elections, she laughed, resting her head on the back of a friend queueing in front of her.

“No,” she said. “I’m just here to exercise my right only.”

Zimbabweans will elect a new president, 210 national lawmakers and 1,970 local government and municipal leaders.

Eleven candidates, including one woman, are vying for the president’s job but Mnangagwa and Chamisa are the main contestants.

Mnangagwa who has been in power since 2017 cast his ballot in his hometown, Kwekwe where he told the media that he has noticed that people, including the younger generation, are interested in voting.

“I think this time around there was quite a lot of publicity [around the election],” Mnangagwa who is seeking a second term told reporters as he left the polling station.

Mnangagwa was a close ally of Mugabe and served as vice president before a fallout ahead of the 2017 coup.

He has failed to deal with inflation, currency shortages and high levels of unemployment which are the key issues in the 2023 elections.

The BBC reported that Zanu-PF did not produce a manifesto, saying Mnangagwa’s work speaks for itself, with a boom in mining and big investments in infrastructure.

But the CCC says ordinary people have not benefited, with one in four Zimbabweans out of regular work. Chamisa says he plans to scrap the volatile local currency if he wins.

To win the presidency, a candidate must get more than 50 percent of the vote. If there is no outright winner, a run-off between the top two candidates will be held on October 2.

Parliamentary and local council candidates only need a simple majority of votes cast.

Results of the Presidential election are expected to be announced within five days.