The 30 July general election in Zimbabwe is significant because it marks the end to a campaign season which for the first time in decades has been without the influence of ousted president, Robert Mugabe.
Unless the election fails to produce an outright winner with a 50+1 majority as stipulated by law, Zimbabweans will soon know who their next leader will be. The new president will serve a five year term.
The election comes just a few months after Mugabe was ousted at the military’s instigation. It will determine the country’s future in the world after so many years of being ostracised from the international community.
The outcome will also shape Zimbabwe’s political and economic outlook. And it goes without saying that the onus will be on the new leader to usher in a new era for Zimbabweans.
Despite the optimism and cautious hope that surrounded Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power, the economic situation in Zimbabwe has remained unchanged. The economy, which collapsed under Mugabe’s rule, is not yet out of the woods.
Despite its “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra, Mnangagwa’s administration has battled to resuscitate the struggling economy.
In the run-up to the polls the country remains afflicted by high unemployment, de-industrialisation and a severe liquidity crisis.
This has affected the livelihoods of ordinary citizens many of who have resorted to eking out a living through street vending to put food on the table.
The cost of living remains very high and those in the informal sector have borne the brunt.
Mnangagwa has promised to fix the economy and to lift the majority of Zimbabweans out of poverty.
As if reading from the same script, the main opposition candidate Nelson Chamisa has also promised to open Zimbabwe up to foreign investors, as well as to remedy the economic malaise that spread like a virus during the Mugabe era.
While on the campaign trail, the two main candidates, Chamisa (of the Movement for Democratic Change – Alliance) and Mnangagwa (of the ruling ZANU-PF), both promised heaven and earth.
It therefore comes as no surprise that opinion polls and support on the ground for both candidates point to the fact that this election is a two-horse race between the MDC-Alliance, and ZANU-PF.
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