President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to announce the date for the 2023 harmonised national elections tomorrow (Sunday), amid growing political and economic challenges in the country.
The announcement will come a day after he commissioned classroom blocks at Mabobolo Secondary School under Chief Pashu in Binga, where he urged the people to vote wisely and safeguard their heritage.
“Tomorrow (Sunday) I will be announcing election day,” he said.
“When elections are conducted every person in Binga should safe guard our heritage by voting.
“If we do not vote properly people without Zimbabwe at heart will take over. We must protect it and preserve our heritage.”
Mnangagwa also oversaw a ground breaking ceremony of a clinic in Mabobolo Village.
The ruling party Zanu PF is on an aggressive membership recruitment exercise countrywide, targeting to garner five million votes in the upcoming polls. It has concluded its primary election process.
However, the opposition parties and civil society groups have raised concerns over the credibility and fairness of the elections, citing lack of electoral reforms, violence, intimidation and manipulation by Zanu PF and its allies.
They have also accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of being biased and incompetent, and demanded an independent audit of the voters’ roll and the ballot papers.
According to the constitution, the elections must be held between July 26 and August 24, 2023. However, some sources have claimed that Mnangagwa may call for an early election in April 2023, to catch his opponents off guard and take advantage of his incumbency.
The elections will be held amid a worsening economic crisis, characterised by high inflation, currency depreciation, fuel shortages, power cuts and poverty.
The government has also faced criticism for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed over 5 000 lives and infected over 200 000 people in the country.
The health sector is also in shambles, with nurses and doctors threatening to go on strike over low salaries and poor working conditions.
The elections will be a test of Mnangagwa’s legitimacy and popularity, as he seeks to secure a second term after a controversial victory in 2018, which was challenged by his main rival Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance.
Chamisa has refused to recognise Mnangagwa as the legitimate president, and has called for dialogue and a transitional authority to resolve the political impasse.
However, Mnangagwa has dismissed Chamisa’s demands, and has instead engaged with some fringe opposition parties under the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) platform, which has been widely dismissed as a rubber stamp for his agenda.