Polls have opened in Zimbabwe as the nation participates in an election to choose its president, parliament members, and local council representatives.
This marks the second general election after the removal of long-standing leader Robert Mugabe due to a 2017 coup.
The primary competition is anticipated to occur between President Emmerson Mnangagwa, also known as “The Crocodile,” aged 80, and 45-year-old opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). A total of 12 presidential candidates are listed on the ballot.
Chamisa aspires to end the 43-year rule of the ZANU-PF party, while Mnangagwa seeks a second and final term in office.
Challenges such as runaway inflation, currency shortages, and high unemployment rates continue to affect Mnangagwa’s current administration.
Observers note that the ZANU-PF party holds an unjust advantage due to its control over vital institutions including the police.
Africa Risk Consulting, a private firm, highlighted this in a pre-election note, stating that the playing field leans heavily in favor of the ruling party.
Despite changes like introducing gold-backed coins and a digital currency, the country still faces challenges. Out of a population of 15 million, approximately 6.6 million people are registered to vote.
Vote counting will commence once polling stations close, with results for the 350-seat parliament expected throughout Thursday morning. Presidential election results will follow.
Zimbabwe has a history of alleged election rigging and disputes over outcomes, leading to protests and contested results.
The 2018 election, in which Mnangagwa narrowly defeated Chamisa, exemplified this trend.
To secure the presidency, a candidate must garner over 50% of the vote. If no clear winner emerges, a runoff between the top two contenders is scheduled for October 2.
Challenges to the election outcome are highly likely, indicating potential future disputes.