CCC leader and former loyalist lead push to oust Mnangagwa in August
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa will face a former ruling party stalwart who was exiled after a coup six years ago in the country’s general election set for August 23.
Saviour Kasukuwere, a former Zanu PF high-ranking official and loyalist of the late Robert Mugabe, successfully registered to run for president on Wednesday alongside President Mnangagwa and the country’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC was yet to announce the final list of confirmed candidates by press time, but the three are considered to be the front-runners in the hugely anticipated polls.
Zimbabweans will also be voting for members of the 350-seat Parliament and nearly 2,000 local council positions on the same date.
President Mnangagwa, 80, will be seeking what would be his final term in office and is again expected to face a serious challenge from Mr Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who leads the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC.
Read:Mnangagwa set elections for August 23
The 45-year-old opposition leader narrowly lost the disputed 2018 presidential election, which was held about nine months after a coup that toppled Mr Mugabe, who had ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980.
Mr Kasukuwere was one of several loyalists of the veteran ruler, who were forced into exile after the coup. It was not clear if he had returned to Zimbabwe from South Africa after he sent lawyers to file his nomination papers.
“The process is going well and I’m happy Zimbabwe is now a mature democracy,” President Mnangagwa told journalists at the nomination court in Harare.
“It is very peaceful,” he added. “This is what we want and should continue now during the process of campaigning, during the elections and post elections.”
In the last elections, soldiers shot dead six people on the streets of Harare during protests over delays in the release of presidential election result.
President Mnangagwa has also been accused of using repressive tactics to stifle any opposition to his rule including jailing opposition activists and introducing repressive laws.
Read:Zimbabwe passes law to punish ‘unpatriotic’ citizens
Chamisa confident of victory
Mr Chamisa said he was confident of victory despite complaints about alleged irregularities on the voters’ roll and the intimidation of opposition supporters.
“The greater the challenges, the greater the dimension of our courage, boldness and fortitude to ensure we win,” Mr Chamisa said outside the nomination court.
Zimbabwe has only had two leaders since independence from Britain.
“There is no way Zimbabwe is going to remain the way it is. Change is in the air, victory is certain.”
President Mnangagwa, once a close ally of Mr Mugabe during his long iron-fisted rule, tried to cast himself as a reformist soon after the coup, but he is now accused of being more repressive than his predecessor.
Read:Clamour for reforms puts Zimbabwe polls in doubt
He is also accused of failing to deliver on promises to end Zimbabwe’s economic problems that have stretched for over two decades.
The country is facing a renewed currency crisis, a sharp increase in prices of basic commodities and high unemployment rates.Zimbabwe has only had two leaders since independence from Britain.
The country has been isolated by the international community for two decades due to alleged human rights violations and electoral fraud, which led to economic sanctions by the United States, European Union and United Kingdom, among other Western countries.