Zimbabweans voted in parliamentary and local authority by-elections on Saturday, which are considered a preview of what to expect in next year’s national elections. People are so excited about the polls that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has led rallies to support the ZANU-PF candidates. They opened at 7:00am.
“We need change,” Jasen Maeka, a 42-year-old unemployed man, said after voting in central Harare’s polling station. Allowing the adversary a chance is a good idea. “This administration has proven to be a failure,” Maeka remarked. Three months before the by-elections, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, widely seen as Mnangangwa’s most formidable opponent, created a new party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). On Thursday, Chamisa addressed his final campaign rally in a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Harare, saying, “We are headed into a key by-election. It is a dry run for the 2023 election. “
The new party’s campaign rallies drew large numbers. Several of Chamisa’s party’s political parties were outlawed by the police during the two-month campaign, according to Chamisa’s party. One person was killed and 22 others were injured after unrest during an opposition protest last month. During the election campaign, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga compared the opposition to lice that needed to be “crushed.” The ZANU-PF party, which has led the country since its independence from Britain in 1980, also drew large audiences to the polls.
Critics accuse Mnangagwa of muzzling dissidents, and the opposition has expressed concern that the election may be rigged. Mnangagwa gained office in 2017 after Robert Mugabe governed for 37 years. In a struggle over control of the country’s main opposition party, voters are casting ballots in 28 parliamentary constituencies, including 20 where opposition legislators were recalled. Following the deaths or reassignments of the incumbents, the remaining seats became vacant.
In addition, 122 local government municipalities held by-elections. The by-elections were due to take place within 90 days of the seats’ being vacant, but Mnangangwa postponed them until 2020, claiming the COVID-19 outbreak as the reason. The elections were contested by sixteen parties. Even before the election started, Chamisa’s party said that the election was rigged. They said that irregularities in the voter list were proof.