BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe – Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of plotting to rig the August 23 general election and has appealed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene.
Chamisa, who is Mnangagwa’s main challenger in a race that includes nine other candidates, made the allegations on Sunday at a rally in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city.
He told thousands of his supporters that he had met with the SADC Election Observer Mission and briefed them on the challenges facing the electoral process.
“I told them that Mnangagwa is not preparing to win, he is plotting to rig,” Chamisa said.
“I told them that he stole the election in 2018 but this time I will not allow him to steal it again. I told them Zimbabwe is the next SADC chair and they should get ready to welcome me.”
Chamisa claimed that he had not seen the ballot paper or the voters roll, which he said were manipulated by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to favour Mnangagwa and his ruling Zanu-PF party.
He also alleged that there were problems with the deployment of postal ballots and that some security forces had defied their bosses and voted for him.
The CCC leader said he was confident of winning the election despite the irregularities and urged his supporters to vote in large numbers and protect their votes.
The election is the second since Mnangagwa took power from former authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe in a 2017 military coup.
Mnangagwa has promised a free and fair election and has invited international observers, including from SADC, the African Union and the European Union, to monitor the polls.
However, critics have raised concerns over the independence and credibility of ZEC, which is accused of being biased towards Zanu-PF.
The opposition has also complained about the lack of media access, intimidation of voters and abuse of state resources by Zanu-PF.
Zimbabwe is facing a deep economic crisis, with high inflation, unemployment and poverty. The election is seen as a crucial test for the country’s democratic transition and its prospects for recovery.