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Zimbabwe election: Mnangagwa vs Chamisa in first vote since Mugabe

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zimbabwe election 2018.JPG
Zanu-PF
supporters celebrate in Harare after voting in the country’s
first elections without Robert Mugabe as
leader.

Philimon
Bulawayo/Reuters


  • Millions of Zimbabweans voted for a new president and
    parliament on Monday.
  • It is the first election in the country’s 38-year
    history which hasn’t featured Robert Mugabe as a
    candidate.
  • The main contenders for president are Emmerson
    Mnangagwa, the current president, and Nelson Chamisa, a former
    pastor.
  • The election campaign has been wild: Mnangagwa survived
    an explosion at a campaign rally, and Chamisa lied about
    meeting Trump and had to apologize.

Vote-counting is underway in Zimbabwe, which is awaiting the
conclusion of a wild election campaign which is the first in the
nation’s 38-year history not to feature Robert Mugabe.

Millions of Zimbabweans voted for a new president and parliament
on Monday, which could also see power shift from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF
party for the first time ever.

Mugabe, who had been in power since 1980,
resigned last November
following a dramatic military coup.
Vice President
Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as interim president
, and now
hopes to secure a term as leader in his own right.

His main contender is Nelson Chamisa, the 45-year-old leader of
Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T), the largest
opposition party Zanu-PF party.

The contest between the two has been full of dramatic moments,
including an explosion at an Mnangagwa campaign rally in June,
which he said was an attempt by Mugabe loyalists to kill him.

Chamisa has had his share of controversy too, including a string
of gaffes which saw him apparently fabricate a meeting with
Donald Trump which he claimed could lead to a $15 billion
investment in Zimbabwe if he won.


emmerson mnangagwa
Emmerson
Mnangagwa in Harare in July.

Dan
Kitwood/Getty


The winner is not clear at this moment, although opinion polls
cited by the BBC
said Mnangagwa was narrowly leading. Both
Mnangagwa and Chamisa have both said they were confident they
would win.

Official results are expected within the next five days. Many
Zimbabweans have expressed fears that Zanu-PF would not accept
the result, given that it had been the ruling party since 1980
and the huge risk it took in removing Mugabe. Mnangagwa and
Zanu-PF have both said that they will accept the result.

There will be a run-off election on September 8 if neither
candidate wins more than 50% of the votes.


Robert Mugabe Grace
Robert
and Grace Mugabe in October 2017.

REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Mugabe’s legacy

Mugabe, who resigned at age 93, left behind a country
plagued with corruption and political mismanagement
.

He first ascended power as prime minister in 1980, the year
Zimbabwe became an independent nation, when Zanu-PF won that
year’s general elections.

In 1987, the Mugabe-run parliament amended the constitution,
removed the office of prime minister, and made Mugabe president.
He also abolished term limits, meaning he could run for office
for an unlimited number of times.

During Mugabe’s rule, Zimbabwe’s economy shrunk by more than a
third from 2000 to 2008, unemployment skyrocketed to more than
80%, and hyperinflation got so bad that the country had to
abandon its own currency for the US dollar.

Meanwhile his wife Grace, known as “Gucci Grace,” gained
notoriety for her lavish spending amid her country’s poverty.
Mugabe fired Mnangagwa last November in an apparent attempt to
smooth the path to presidency for Grace, triggering the military
coup that ultimately deposed him.


Emmerson Mnangagwa
Mnangagwa
in December 2017.

REUTERS/Philimon
Bulawayo


The candidates: Mugabe’s former bodyguard vs the pastor who lied
about meeting Trump

Mnangagwa served as Mugabe’s personal assistant and bodyguard
before becoming his vice-president and, ultimately, successor. He
earned the nickname “The Crocodile” in the 1970s during his time
as a guerrilla fighter in Zimbabwe’s liberation war.

Since becoming president, he has pledged to
open Zimbabwe’s economy to foreign investment
. He has
appeared particularly close to China, where he received military
training, maintained financial links, and sent one of his sons to
study.

In June Mnangagwa survived an explosion at a campaign rally at
what he and state media described
as an assassination attempt
.

Two people died and at least 49 people, including two of
Mnangagwa’s deputies, were injured, the BBC
reported
.


nelson chamisa
MDC-T’s
Nelson Chamisa.

Dan
Kitwood/Getty


Chamisa, 45, is a former Pentecostal pastor. He is relatively new
to politics, and has made a few blunders during his presidential
campaign already.

According to
the BBC
, he told a rally earlier this year that he had met
Donald Trump, who had “promised” to invest $15 billion (£11.3
billion) into Zimbabwe if his party won Monday’s election. The US
refuted that claim and MDC-T officials were
reportedly forced to apologize
.

Chamisa also claimed that he would marry off his 18-year-old
sister to Mnangagwa if Zanu-PF did extraordinarily badly in the
polls and got less than 5% of the vote.

He later attempted to justify his statement, saying: “It was just
a political banter that I used to illustrate that even if I
promised to give him my most prized possession, he would still
not be able to defeat us in a free and fair election.”


zimbabwe chamisa
Chamisa
in February 2018.

AP Photo/Tsvangirayi
Mukwazhi


Unlike his opponent, Chamisa has also pledged
to rid his country of investment from China
 — Zimbabwe’s
largest source of investment.

Earlier this year he also promised, if he won, to
build a bullet train
that would travel from Harare to
Bulawayo — major cities 446 km (277 miles) apart — within 35
minutes, meaning it would travel at more than 760 km/h (472 mph).
This is impossible with current technology.

Mugabe on Sunday said he would not be voting for Mnangagwa. It’s
not clear whether he voted at all.


zimbabwe election voting
A
polling station in the Mbare district of
Harare.

Dan
Kitwood/Getty


High turnout

Voting on Monday appeared to be mostly peaceful, although Reuters
reported some coercion and intimidation by Zanu-PF officials in
rural areas, and state media being biased toward Zanu-PF, citing
election monitoring sources.

Voter turnout was also at a record high, at 75%. Less than half
the population voted in past presidential elections under Mugabe,
according to the International
Foundation for Electoral Systems’ election guide
.

The Zanu-PF party almost lost the election once,
in 2008
, when MDC-T won 47.9% and Zanu-PF 43.2%. Zanu-PF won
the subsequent run-off elections in a landslide. Dozens of of
MDC-T voters were killed in the months leading to it.

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