Zimbabwe elections 2018: Why is this week’s election crucial for Zimbabwe? | World | News



Voting in Zimbabwe has now been concluded as locals have taken to the polls for the first time since Robert Mugabe sat in office.

The latest votes will see one of 23 running candidates voted in, but it is believed to be a race between two parties.

Emerson Mnangagwa, 75-year-old representative of Robert Mugabe’s own Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) is current President, running to stay on this year.

His biggest opponent is Nelson Chamisa, who is vying to be the nation’s youngest ever leader at 40-years-old.

Why are the Zimbabwe elections so crucial?

Today’s elections mark the first time the country will be electing a representative that isn’t Robert Mugabe for over 40 years.

The divisive President was known as a hard-line nationalist, and led the country at a time when corruption and aggressive sanctioning towards Zimbabwe were commonplace.

Elections during Mugabe’s rule were marred by intimidation, rigging and widespread violence, and this year things have already changed.

A general air of peace this year has been observed, and the European Union, United States and Commonwealth have sent observers for the first time since 2002.

Mugabe’s rule led western countries to vote with the UN in imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe’s government in 2001 over allegations of vote-rigging and human rights abuses, which he has rejected.

The cash-strapped nation of Zimbabwe has been operating under Mugabe’s image for 40 years, as he evicted commercial farmers from land in the country and used money to fund trips during his presidency.

In 2016, Mugabe apparently made roughly 20 trips abroad, and government figures showed he spent a total of $36 million in the first 10 months.

President Mnangagwa has been busy hosting Western ambassadors and attracting investors to the country following his position at the helm of the country, in hopes to repair public opinion.

The two front-running election candidates have been busy showing their support for a fair election process.

Emerson Mnangagwa has denied claims from Robert Mugabe that the vote would not be free under the current military government.

In a public statement following his vote, President Mnangagwa said: “I can assure you that this country is enjoying democratic space which has never been experienced before.”

Nelson Chamisa has previously called out “ballot mischief”, saying his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would win otherwise.


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