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Doubts hang over Zimbabwe's post-Mugabe vote



HARARE, Zimbabwe

Newton Namagova

Www.socialistgroup.eu/gpes/sessiond…01&place=STR The Council of Ministers is arguing with a weighty question: will it be Zimbabwe 's election for the first time since the impeachment of the strong man of many years?

Robert Mugabe,

Count

"People in Zimbabwe, there are some who still do not think a vote is a vote," said Mr. Namagowa, a 35-year-old living in a gritty eastern corner of the capital and was unemployed, Since the violent expulsion of white farmers in the early 2000s made his country an international pariah. "We want a new system."

Whether the elections will be spared on Monday is the central issue in this vote, in which the main candidates promise to restore a heavy-money economy. Bottlenecks and corruption bring foreign investment and create jobs.

The President

Emmerson Mnangagwa,

Mr. Mugabe's right-hand man for four decades and his main rival,

Nelson Chamisa,

Emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 1

57 & lang = DE In a poll conducted this month by the bipartisan Afrobarometer group, 37% of likely voters said they would vote their ballots for Mr. Chamisa, compared to 40% for Mr. Mnangagwa. This is only two months earlier with Mr Chamisa, only 31%, while Mr Mnangagwa's support has fallen by 42%.

40-year-old Mr. Chamisa has portrayed himself and his movement for democratic change as a juvenile opponent Alternative to 75-year-old Mr. Mnangagwa

What stands between the candidates and their pledges is a positive assessment of the choice of international observers, including the European Union and the United States. Foreign governments have issued a credible vote central condition for consideration of aid, including a rescue operation by the International Monetary Fund, and relaxation of sanctions

A victory for the opposition would mean a shock to a country that has been the same since the end of the white minority government The party was ruled in 1980, even more than the military intervention Mr. Mugabe removed and Mr. Mnangagwa installed in November. But Mr. Chamisa and the MDC would have to argue with an inefficient government apparatus formed by his ZANU-PF opponents.

Despite Mr. Mnangagwa's commitment to holding Democratic elections and accepting an opposition victory, many Zimbabweans are skeptical that his party may abandon old habits.

"The DNA of ZANU-PF steals, that's all they know," said

Tendai Biti,

who was Zimbabwe's Minister of Finance from 2009 to 2013 in a government of national unity and is running on the side of Mr Chamisa in the Harare East district where Mr Namagowa lives. "They are unable to hold free and fair elections."

The United Nations Human Rights Office warned this week of mounting reports of voter intimidation, including the participation of people in political rallies and threats of violence. Opposition and civil society groups have meanwhile complained of irregularities in the electoral roll, which for the first time have been compiled with photos and fingerprints, lack of transparency on the printing and saving of ballot papers and alleged elective buys.

An independent audit of the survey, which signed 79% of eligible voters, found nearly 1,000 people over the age of 100 years and over – in a country with an average life expectancy of 61 – including four born in the 1800s, and nearly 5,000 apparent duplicates. More than 100,000 of the 5.6 million registered voters had birth dates or surnames other than 2013.

The irregularities have exacerbated tensions in a more intense race.

With one in five voters who are either undecided or unwilling to disclose their choice, pollsters estimate that victory in the first round of the opposition is possible. If none of the candidates receives more than 50% of the votes, a runoff election will take place in September.

"When Chamisa comes to power, we are freed and we get work," said

Kenneth Jenyura,

20, who also lives in Harare East. But, like many young urban Zimbabweans who tend to be MDC supporters, Mr. Jenyura did not stand up and said he could not pay the ID card fees.

Primaries at the end of April, during which The parties elected parliamentary candidates triggered a vote winnings aimed at losing candidates in both main parties. Mr. Namagowa and a friend said they saw helpers from the Deputy Minister of Finance in their district

Terence Mukupe,

10-dollar bills and ZANU-PF membership cards to residents in return for their election.

Mr. Mukupe did not respond to requests for an opinion on the alleged vote purchases and previously refused to face similar allegations by a student leader of ZANU-PF.

But he has made headlines with other utterances. Weeks after the first vote, Mr. Mukupe said in a party rally that Zimbabwe's military would not allow Mr. Chamisa to take office should he win the election.

The ZANU-PF has stated that it does not tolerate rigging and that Mr. Mukupe's comments do not represent party politics. A military spokesman said the army would not influence the election results.

Local election observers have said that buying votes is still a risk, including from food distributed in rural Zanu-PF rallies. But Mr. Namagowa said he does not believe that this strategy will work this time. "They will take the bread and then they will vote for who they want."

Bernard Mpofu

contributed to this article.

Write to Gabriele Steinhauser at gabriele.steinhauser@wsj.com


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