Zimbabwe will hold elections in four to five months, the country’s new president has said, pointing to an earlier date than expected following the ousting of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa took office in November after a shock military takeover ended Mugabe’s 37-year reign.
“Zimbabwe is going for elections in four to five months’ time and we have to preach peace, peace and peace,” Mnangagwa said yesterday during a visit to neighbouring Mozambique.
Mnangagwa, 75, vowed to hold fair elections to ensure Zimbabwe “engages the world as a qualified democratic state,” according to Thursday’s state-owned Herald newspaper. Under Mugabe, who had ruled since 1980, Zimbabwean elections were marred by vote rigging, intimidation and violent suppression of the opposition.
Mnangagwa was one of Mugabe’s closest allies in the ruling Zanu-PF party, and he is accused of playing a key role in the authoritarian regime that left the economy in ruins. Mugabe, 93, was forced to quit when the military took power and once-loyal Zanu-PF lawmakers launched impeachment proceedings against him.
Mugabe’s final years in office were marked by a succession battle between Mnangagwa, who was covertly backed by the military, and supporters of Mugabe’s wife Grace.
Mnangagwa has appointed military officials to key government positions and pledged to revive the economy by boosting agricultural production and attracting foreign investment.
The election had been expected in late July or August. According to the constitution, Zimbabwe “should hold elections between July 22 and August 22 but parliament can elect to dissolve itself, triggering an early vote”, Reuters news agency reports.
The governing Zanu-PF party currently has a two-thirds majority in parliament. Analysts say the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has been weakened and divided by the ill health of its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is receiving treatment for colon cancer. —AFP & BBC