Zimbabwe holds presidential and parliamentary elections on Wednesday in which the top two contenders, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, will battle it out for the right to form the next government.
Below are five facts about the voting:
* Zimbabwe has 6.6 million registered voters who are expected to cast their ballots at 12,374 polling stations dotted around the country.
* Voters directly elect a president, 210 members of parliament and more than 9,000 councillors. 60 women and 10 youths (below 35) will be appointed through proportional representation to the House of Assembly while 60 people will be appointed in the upper Senate chamber via the same system.
* Voting starts at 7AM (0500 GMT) and ends at 7PM (1700 GMT). Vote tallying and counting starts immediately after the close of polls and results for council, parliament and president are posted outside each polling station.
* The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will announce winners for parliament in their constituencies, while results for president will be announced at the commission’s headquarters in Harare within five days of voting.
* A presidential candidate requires 50 percent plus one vote for an outright win. If no candidate gets that, a runoff will be held on October 2 between the top two contestants from the current field of 11.
D-Day in Zimbabwe: A key election goes to the polls – and then, perhaps, to the streets
After violence and threats, court cases and protests, high-energy rallies and low-key door-to-door slogging, Zimbabwe goes to the polls on Wednesday in what opposition parties in particular have branded a momentous vote.
The election is vast: 12 374 polling stations staffed by 150 000 electoral officers to help up to 6.6 million eligible voters decide between thousands of local-authority candidates, 582 people who say they should be in the national assembly – and 10 people who could all potentially be the president.
The election is supposed to be guaranteed in part by 3 572 local and 136 foreign observers – but Zanu-PF has insisted they must act as observers rather than monitors, and must not interfere. Just how broad the party’s definition of interference is may yet be tested as those observers report on what they see.
President Mnangagwa met with observers drawn from Sadc, a combined team of the African Union and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the Organisation of the African Caribbean and the Pacific States (OACPS), the Commonwealth and the European Union.
Secretary General of the OACPS and head of delegation, Mr Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, commended the Government for its election preparations despite the sanctions.
Head of the Sadc delegation and former Zambian Vice President, Dr Nevers Mumba, urged Zimbabweans to maintain the existing peace on the election day and afterwards.
Head of the EU delegation, Mr Fabio Castaldo, said they were in Zimbabwe to observe the elections and said they would be impartial in their work.
President Mnangagwa has this evening announced that voting will continue tomorrow in areas that were affected by logistical issues which saw some areas either getting voting material late in the day or not at all.
However, the extension of voting will not affect the announcement of presidential election results, which has to be done within five days.
In some areas such as Warren Park in Harare, voting continued after 8 pm when voting material came while at Haig Park Primary School, the material arrived late and ran out a few hours later.
Technically, the affected areas will be on holiday to allow people to vote.
The country’s internet has been downgraded ahead of tomorrow’s national election, NetBlocks, a watchdog organisation that monitors cybersecurity and internet governance, has confirmed.
In a post on X on Tuesday evening, NetBlocks said the throttling of internet services in Zimbabwe impacts online platforms on NetOne, Econet, TelOne and Liquid, potentially affecting citizens’ ability to stay informed.
The Carter Center says Zimbabwean authorities are dragging their feet in accrediting 30 short-term election observers, despite an invitation to observe Wednesday’s general elections.
The Carter Center says the delay is an “unwarranted obstruction” by government officials, amid a barrage of “false and hostile comments about the Center” in state-run newspapers.
The not-for-profit organisation was founded in 1982 by former United States President Jimmy Carter.
“Despite the Zimbabwean government’s invitation to launch an election observation mission for the August 23 elections, 30 of the Carter Center’s 48 short-term observers still have not received accreditation from Zimbabwean authorities,” the Center said in a statement Tuesday.
Just days before a national election to pick a president and lawmakers, one word is on the lips of most young Zimbabweans: “change”. About two-thirds of Zimbabweans are under 25, according to the United Nations.
Many will be voting for the first time on August 23, in an election where unemployment, estimated by economists at about 70 percent in the formal sector, is one of the top concerns.
Talk of change often implies support for the opposition, led by Nelson Chamisa, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor. But almost no one says that out loud.
Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa has thanked BRICS countries for standing with Zimbabwe to avoid chaos caused by western countries in other parts of the world.
Ambassador Mutsvangwa was speaking while addressing the 6th BRICS Media Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, today.
The forum was attended by media practitioners from the countries that form BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – and several of their colleagues from various African countries.
The forum comes ahead of the 15th BRICS Summit which starts in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Voting at most urban polling stations in Harare and Bulawayo began four hours late after polling officers failed to distribute papers for the council elections. Some polling stations were still to receive election material more than seven hours after polls opened.
Zimbabweans are electing a president, legislators and local authorities in an in a contest in which the incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is seeking a second term.
Voters expressed their frustration at the delays, saying the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had failed in its management role.
“I came here at 5am knowing that the queues will be long but four hours later I am still to vote. ZEC must do better,” Cynthia Muvirimirwa, 34, a schoolteacher said while standing in a queue nine miles (15km) north of central Harare.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika chairperson Hakainde Hichilema has implored Zimbabwe to be guided by SADC election benchmarks it is party to in order to deliver a flawless poll this Wednesday.
In a statement Tuesday, Zambia’s incumbent president urged Zimbabwean authorities to uphold SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
“A fundamental tenet of our community is the consolidation of democracy, which is defined by regular, credible, free, fair, and transparent electoral processes.
Hichilema wished Zimbabwe an orderly electoral process.
According to the 2023 voters roll statistics, there are 6,619,691 registered voters in Zimbabwe.
Women make up the majority of the voters. There are 3,551,997 female voters which is 53.7 percent of the total number of registered voters. Men are 3,067,694 which translates to 46.3 percent of the voting population.
The highest number of voters are in Harare province with 907,752 excluding those in Chitungwiza.
Bulawayo province has the least number of registered voters, 287,220.
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) has denied allegations that it is bribing local journalists to write negatively about the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe.
The state-controlled media has claimed that the EU-EOM has been giving whiskeys, grocery vouchers, fuel coupons, and other handouts to select journalists in the country.
The observer team has also been accused of straying from its mandate and interfering in the election process.
In a statement, EU-EOM Chief Observer Fabio Massimo Castaldo said the allegations are “defamatory and malicious” and “entirely fabricated.”
“The EU EOM and its observers do not engage in inappropriate activities, nor does the EU EOM interfere in the process,” Castaldo said. “The EU EOM adheres to a strict code of conduct.”