Ahead of the August 23 election, multiple issues are at stake including Zimbabwe’s long-running economic woes.
Harare, Zimbabwe – On August 23, six million registered Zimbabwean voters will go to the polls to choose the country’s president.
While the focus is mostly on the high-stakes presidential contest, across the Southern African country’s 10 provinces, the electorate will also cast votes for local government representatives and parliament representatives.
Incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seeking a second and final five-year term in office as head of state in line with the country’s constitution.
Mnangagwa’s main rival is Nelson Chamisa, the 45-year-old opposition leader, who says he has the following to cause an upset.
Here are five reasons why this election is so hotly contested.
With high unemployment, a local currency that is rapidly losing value against the United States dollar, and hyperinflation that has eroded purchasing power, the economy will be a major determinant in this year’s elections.
Half the population lives in extreme poverty. In addition, the Zimbabwe dollar is trading at $1 to $6,800 US, while annual June inflation stood at 175.8 percent.
Also, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have caused a surge in the cost of food items. Farmers of key crops such as maize have experienced disruptions in supply lines of commodities such as wheat and fertiliser.
As such, the state of the economy will be a central concern for voters in this election.Under Mnangagwa’s watch, the economy has shrunk, and analysts are divided about what this means for his re-election bid.Unlike in 2018, when [the president] had the advantage of being a hero of the November 2017 coup and the general feeling of giving him a chance, this time around he has demonstrated that … he has no plan to make things better as shown by his failure to even pen a manifesto,” Bekezela Gumbo, principal researcher the Harare-based think-tank Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, told Al Jazeera.
But Eldred Masunungure, director of the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) and a lecturer in governance and public management at the University of Zimbabwe, disagrees.
“The economy has been in a comatose state [but] … ZANU-PF [the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front, Mnangagwa’s party] has supporters who will stick to it. It’s a mystery why Zimbabweans vote ZANU-PF when the party is the author of their misery. It’s a conundrum which requires an investigation on its own.”
Chamisa’s manifesto has promised “macro-economic stability characterized by single digit inflation and stable exchange rates”, a $100 billion economy and the creation of 2.5 million jobs in five years.