Published: Tue, July 31, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Mugabe Urges Voters To Reject Mnangagwa

Mugabe Urges Voters To Reject Mnangagwa

The election victor faces the task of putting Zimbabwe back on track after 37 years of Mugabe rule tainted by corruption, mismanagement and diplomatic isolation that caused a crisis in a country that once had one of Africa's most promising economies.

ZANU-PF, which was previously fiercely loyal to Mugabe, has ruled since the country's independence from British colonial rule in 1980. I am not leaving anything to chance.

The elections have been opened up to worldwide observers, though the opposition has voiced concerns that the voter roll has irregularities and claimed that the army has been deployed to rural areas in an attempt to intimidate people to vote for the ruling ZANU-PF.

"We wish you well and are praying for a safe, free and fair election in Zimbabwe today, and we know that if it is democratic, you will triumph", Maimane said in a letter.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe's former ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) in a historic vote for the southern African nation.

Opinion polls give Mr Mnangagwa, who heads the ruling Zanu-PF party, a narrow lead over Mr Chamisa, the candidate of the opposition MDC Alliance.

In his televised address yesterday Mr Mugabe, who has backed a new political party that is part of a coalition supporting Mr Chamisa, said: 'He seems to be doing well at his rallies'. "Victory is certainly certain!"

There were concerns in urban areas, which are opposition strongholds, that long queues were moving too slowly, raising fears of a repeat of the 2002 disputed elections that saw polling stations closing before thousands of people could vote. He urged the country to remain peaceful during the landmark vote. We will sink or swim together'.

Zimbabweans line up to vote at the Fitchela primary school in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe. "He can engage me anytime".

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Clause 7 (1)(b) of the Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates and other stakeholders prohibits political players and parties from undertaking any campaigns from midnight, 24 hours before the opening of polling stations.

There will be a runoff on September 8 if no candidate wins more than half the votes.

"This is a critical moment in Zimbabwe's democratic journey", said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Liberian president and a leader of one of the worldwide observer missions.

The electoral body said 90 percent of the polling stations had opened on time by 8am local time (05:00 GMT).

"I am not shy to say I voted for Chamisa".

In his first live appearance since being forced to resign by his generals, Mugabe, 94, spoke slowly but appeared in good health sitting in a pagoda in the grounds of "Blue Roof", his sprawling mansion in Harare.

"However the public's faith in the secrecy of the ballot is essential for the credibility of the process".

Zimbabweans are also electing 210 members of parliament and more than 9,000 councillors. Polling officers helped voters put each ballot paper in the right box.

Many people have said it is an important moment as it could mark a big change for a country that had the same leader for 37 years.

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