Zimbabwe's split opposition helping Mugabe's successor to victory

2018-06-18 06:00
Robert Mugabe (File: AP)

Robert Mugabe (File: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Zimbabwe's divided opposition could bolster the long ruling party's chances of victory after failing to forge a solid coalition for the country's first elections without Robert Mugabe.

Twenty-three candidates - the highest number in the country's election history - are in the running for the presidential race after haggling over the allocation of parliamentary seats, scuttling a plan by the opposition to form a united front in general elections due on July 30.

But the real battle is seen to be between the ruling Zanu-PF and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the party which has posed the most formidable challenge to Zanu-PF's grip on power.

The main presidential candidates are Zanu-PF's Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, who succeeded Mugabe after a brief military takeover last November and Nelson Chamisa, 40, who took over as leader of the MDC following the death of opposition veteran Morgan Tsvangirai in February.

"The unprecedented numbers of aspiring candidates is an indication of the opening of political space and an interest by Zimbabweans to take part in politics," said Rushweat Mukundu, of Zimbabwe Democracy Institute.

Mnangagwa who took over from Mugabe, ending his nearly four-decade rule in which he presided over the country's economic and political decline, has vowed to hold clean elections and break from past history of violence-tainted polls.

Zanu-PF "has created the impression that it has broken from its past of violent and contestable elections, hence the unprecedented numbers of those who have come out to contest", said Harare-based independent analyst Alexander Rusero, adding many have no following "beyond their small cliques and the churches they attend".

"At best this is counterfeit democracy," which festers confusion among the opposition while Mnangagwa enjoys the benefit of incumbency.

Mnangagwa's ruling Zanu-PF party, riven by factionalism which began as a battle over Mugabe's succession, is also battling to stay together.

'Counterfeit democracy'

In May the party held a so-called "healing session" to appease disgruntled members who had threatened to "donate" their votes to the opposition, or stand as independents amid accusations of rigging and favouritism during primary elections.

"It's not the number of candidates that's worrying but the phenomenon of rebels who are insisting on standing without the blessing of their parties," according to University of Zimbabwe's Eldred Masunungure.

"This is going to have an impact on both Zanu-PF and the MDC Alliance".

Some 5.6 million people are registered to vote in the election which has attracted the interest of many first-time voters desperate for change in a country ruled by Zanu-PF rule since independence from Britain in 1980.

"I was born under Zanu-PF and all I have known is poverty and suffering," said Harare street vendor, Takudzwa Mutepeya "for us this is a vote for change".

Mnangagwa has pledged to revive the country's moribund economy which took a toll from years of misrule, and to mend fences with Zimbabwe's former Western allies who severed ties over the Mugabe regime's tainted human rights record.

Chamisa has said, if elected, he will create a $100-billion economy in a decade.

'A vote for change'

Other candidates include Mugabe's former deputy Joice Mujuru, ex-cabinet minister Nkosana Moyo, Thokozani Khupe from a breakaway faction of the MDC, and musician and sculptor Taurai Mteki.

Businesswoman Violet Mariyacha, 61, returned home after 25 years in Britain, to join the presidential race.

"I could not continue watching my people suffering," she told AFP. "I came to be the new face of Zimbabwe's politics".

Human rights activist and presidential candidate Lovemore Madhuku is in the election "to introduce an alternative voice. We are fed up with ... having two dominant parties that are simply doing nothing except fighting each other".

Previous elections have been marred by violence, intimidation and charges of electoral fraud including stuffing of the electoral roll with phantom voters including long-deceased people.

In 2008 the then opposition leader Tsvangirai withdrew from a presidential run-off election citing the deaths of scores of his supporters.

The lead-up to the election has so far been calm. For the first time the state broadcaster covered the launch of the main opposition MDC's manifesto live on television while police allowed a march calling for reforms including giving foreign-based citizens to right to vote without having to travel back home.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Read more on:    mdc  |  zanu-pf  |  emmerson mnangagwa  |  nelson chamisa  |  joice mujuru  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.