Millions of Zimbabweans will on Monday head to polling stations as the country makes strides towards its renewal after a tumultuous two decades.
The election will be the country’s first national election since the recall of former President Robert Mugabe last year. After stepping down in November, President Mugabe was replaced by Former Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The much anticipated election is expected to be a tight contest between Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF and the MDC, led by Nelson Chamisa. Whoever emerges, will become the country’s first democratically elected president since 1987. Mugabe led the country for 31 years from that year.
Mnangagwa has quelled fears of vote-rigging, assuring his adversaries and observers that the polls would be free and fair.
The country’s previous elections have been blighted by intense violence that has seen its citizens fleeing and seeking refuge in countries like South Africa. Fears were heightened last month when Mnangagwa survived a bomb blast during a ZANU-PF rally in Bulawayo. Two people died in the incident while scores others sustained injuries.
A 63-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission, led by Angola's secretary of state in the external relations ministry, Tete Antonio, has reportedly warned it would not endorse a fraudulent Zimbabwe election.
South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu early this month told reporters that there was no place for violence in any of the countries preparing for elections, of which Zimbabwe was one of.
Sisulu said Mnangagwa had committed that the country will uphold the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Adopted in 2004 and revised in 2014, the guidelines are an important initiative that commits regional governments to credible, democratic and peaceful elections.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, as chair of SADC, said Zimbabwe was ready for elections and SADC would provide all necessary support.
“Zimbabwe has assured us that they have the necessary resources to conduct a peaceful, free and fair elections,” Sisulu said.
South Africa and its neighbour Zimbabwe reinstated the bilateral relations in 1994. This was after ties were severed after Zimbabwe gained independence.
The establishment of full diplomatic relations came into effect from 29 April 1994. The normalisation of relations were illustrated by numerous visits back and forth by the Presidents and Ministers of the two countries over the past 20 years. – SAnews.gov.za