President Emmerson Mnangagwa has submitted his candidacy papers on Wednesday, expressing confidence that Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections would proceed peacefully despite concerns over a crackdown on opposition figures.
Mnangagwa, who lodged his application at a court in Harare, assured reporters that the electoral process was progressing smoothly and hailed Zimbabwe’s progress as a “mature democracy.”
The presidential and legislative elections are scheduled to take place on August 23, marking a critical moment for the country’s political landscape.
“This process is so peaceful. This is what we want and should continue now during the process of campaigning, during the elections, post elections,” Mnangagwa stated, emphasizing his commitment to maintaining a peaceful environment throughout the electoral cycle.
However, recent events have cast a shadow of doubt on Zimbabwe’s democratic progress. Last week, 39 opposition activists were charged with vandalizing the offices of the ruling ZANU-PF party, which has held power since the nation gained independence from Britain in 1980. Earlier this month, five opposition members were arrested on allegations of assaulting supporters of the ruling party.
Critics argue that the government is exploiting the judicial system to target opposition politicians, leading to arbitrary arrests and a growing sense of repression. Moreover, the opposition has raised concerns about the substantial increase in candidacy fees for the presidential elections. In 2018, the fee was set at $1,000, but it has since soared to $20,000, further exacerbating the challenges faced by aspiring candidates.
Nevertheless, President Mnangagwa was not alone in filing his candidacy on Wednesday. Five other individuals, including Nelson Chamisa, the prominent opposition leader and Mnangagwa’s primary challenger from the Citizens Coalition for Change, also submitted their bids for the presidency.
Chamisa exuded confidence in his ability to defeat Mnangagwa in the upcoming vote, which is taking place against a backdrop of widespread dissatisfaction with persistent poverty, economic hardships, and crippling power outages.
“The greater the challenges, the greater the dimension of our courage, boldness, and fortitude to make sure that we win,” Chamisa declared outside the court, underscoring his determination for change. “There’s no way Zimbabwe is going to remain the way it is; change is in the air,” added the 45-year-old lawyer and pastor, expressing certainty in his victory.
As the election day draws nearer, Zimbabwe is bracing itself for a fiercely contested race, with both major candidates expressing their conviction in prevailing and steering the country towards a new era.