In the recent Zimbabwe elections, eager voters found themselves facing unexpected obstacles while awaiting their turn to cast their votes. These challenges were particularly prominent in areas known for opposing the government, with less than a quarter of polling stations in the capital, Harare, operating on schedule.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission attributed these delays to “numerous court challenges,” which had an impact on the timely printing of essential ballot papers. However, the commission assured the public that anyone standing in line by 7 p.m. would be given the opportunity to exercise their democratic right.
One determined voter, Cathrine Nyakudanga, shared her determination: “I’m not giving up. I’ve waited for five years to vote, and a few extra hours won’t discourage me.” Cathrine arrived early at the polls, her six-month-old baby in tow, only to see the ballot papers arriving at 4 p.m., hours after her arrival.
This election also marks President Mnangagwa’s bid for a final term. Taking office after a 2017 coup that ousted longtime leader Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa is affectionately known as the “Crocodile.” In accordance with Zimbabwe’s constitution, he is seeking his second and final term, as the constitution allows presidents a maximum of two five-year terms.
In the event that none of the candidates secures an absolute majority in the first round, a run-off election is scheduled for October 2.
Mnangagwa’s main rival is Nelson Chamisa, representing the Citizen Coalitions for Change (CCC) party. Chamisa has raised concerns about the suppression of the CCC, including instances of disrupted campaign rallies.
International attention has also been directed toward these elections. The US State Department has expressed unease about reported instances of political violence leading up to the election. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stressed the importance of peaceful elections and urged all political leaders to ensure that the process is free from coercion and violence.
Miller also criticized recent actions, including political violence and legislation that restricts human rights guaranteed in Zimbabwe’s constitution. Additionally, he voiced concern over the denial of accreditation to international journalists and local civil society groups covering the election.
As the elections continue to unfold, the world watches with keen interest, hoping for a peaceful and promising future for Zimbabwe.