The Namibian head of the government’s election observation mission, ambassador Ndali Kamati, says so far there is a climate of peace and stability in Zimbabwe as the country prepares to enter a watershed election today.
Six million Zimbabweans are expected to cast their ballots in an election which will see incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu PF fighting it out with advocate Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
All in all, there are 11 presidential candidates vying for power with Mnangagwa contesting to get a second term.
“We have teams we have sent to different parts of the country. They are observing the same thing. It is peaceful everywhere. It is quiet. The rallies are being held in a peaceful atmosphere…
“The main objective of our mission is to follow the process closely to make sure the election is conducted as a result of many parties contesting according to the spirit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), but in the first place according to the law of Zimbabwe. It must be conducted in a fair, free, democratic and transparent way,” Kamati said yesterday.
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN
The ambassador has, however, expressed concern over utterances from Chamisa at a Bulawayo CCC rally, where he proclaimed that his party would not accept any result in favour of Zanu PF.
“While we are optimistic and encouraged by the peaceful atmosphere that is observed currently, there are always concerns when it comes to elections. We cannot rule out that maybe at the end or during the voting or at the end of voting maybe something will come up.
“But given the overwhelming peaceful atmosphere, we are very optimistic,” Kamati said.
Chamisa has considerable support in the urban areas of Zimbabwe, while Zanu PF draws most of its support base from the country’s rural areas.
“I must point out that my delegation was very much disturbed actually by the leader of the main opposition at their rally on Sunday in Bulawayo where he said that any result which does not confirm him as the winner is not acceptable.
“But at his latest rally here in the city he avoided that statement . . . So, the possibility of instability could arise.
“I was informed very late that after the CCC rally here some people from Mbare, while going home, had some exchange of fists with members of Zanu PF.”
POSSIBLE ZANU PF VICTORY
Political analyst and lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Prolific Mataruse says opinion polls are so far suggesting a possible Mnangagwa victory.
“Almost all the surveys have confirmed that the president of the incumbent party will win the election. There have been many problems for what’s supposed to be the alternative, which is the opposition. I do not think they will be competition on the day.
“In some places they have failed to pitch candidates. Not just that, their campaign has generally been in shambles. It has not been managed professionally,” he says.
Mataruse said age will not be a factor in this poll.
Chamisa has in the meantime promised to turn around Zimbabwe’s economy, which continues to be hampered by inflation, a weak local currency, sanctions and rampant corruption.
At his rally held at Freedom Square this week in Harare, he said Zanu PF was in panic mode.
Meanwhile, at one of his rallies, Mnangagwa has urged his supporters to conduct themselves peacefully to “shame detractors who are rooting for a violent election”.
Zimbabwe’s election is being observed by a total of 17 observer missions, including the SADC election observer mission, the European Union observer mission and several other intercontinental agencies.
Mnangagwa has appealed for them to have an open mind and not to have pre-concieved ideas about Zimbabwe.
Mozambique’s ex-president, Joachim Chissano, has met Mnangagwa and Chamisa in the build-up to the poll today.