HARARE, Zimbabwe – Millions of Zimbabweans cast their votes in a parliamentary election on Monday, many hoping they would gain the support of Western governments and receive economic aid to repair decades of mismanagement under Robert Mugabe.
Long lines of enthusiastic voters On the eve of the capital, Harare, it formed in polling stations before the 7 o'clock elections began after a peaceful campaign without the widespread violence, intimidation and fraud in previous elections. Election observers from Europe and the US, who had long been excluded from Mr Mugabe, joined local organizations to oversee the vote.
The Race for the Top Position – The President Emmerson Mnangagwa vs. The Most Important Opposition Leader, Nelson Chamisa, was considered too close to call. Both candidates fought to improve the economy, create jobs and attract foreign investment.
By noon, the election appeared peaceful and voter turnout nationwide was high, according to the Zimbabwean Election Support Network, a private Zimbabwean organization of 6,500 observers across the country
"We have not yet had the kind of reports of problems that we used to get from rural constituencies, "said Andrew Makoni, chairman of the organization.
Mr. Makoni added that he vowed with voter voting – people who could not vote because they were not registered or registered in different places. But he added that it was too early to say how widespread the problems were and whether they were caused by logistical problems or fraud.
For Mr. Mnangagwa, 75, who came to power after . Mugabe was forced in November, and the election was an opportunity to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the people and Western officials he diligently wooed.
Although Mr. Mnangagwa has served as Mugabe's executor for decades, including the rigging of previous elections, he has presented himself as a break from the past – a pragmatist eager to improve relations with the West and make Zimbabwe more business friendly.
For Mr. Chamisa, 40, the election was a chance to meet the goal of his predecessor, Morgan Tsvangirai, who died that year in order to ZANU-PF, in power since the liberation from the white minority rule in 1980 to displace. Mr. Chamisa received recognition for his term as Minister of Information, Communications and Technology in a Government of National Unity between 2009 and 2013.
Following the death of Mr. Tsvangirai, Mr. Chamisa outmaneuvers rival to head the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance become. It is important to remember that a free and fair election was a prerequisite for the resumption of much-needed loans from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international creditors.
Zimbabwe became a pariah in the eyes of Western nations in the early 2000s. after Mr Mugabe had championed the violent seizure of farms owned by descendants of white settlers. Despite Mugabe's attempts to cultivate China as an alternative source of aid, Zimbabwe's economy has continued to dissipate in recent years.
Today, Zimbabwe has no currency of its own. The lack of a physical supply of American dollars and a parallel so-called bond has created a confusing reality: in the capital, digital money is widespread, while many resort to rural areas.
In the months leading up to the launch of The Opposition parties, ZANU-PF and other areas where they were previously subjected to harassment and violence were allowed to operate in the rural strongholds. Election observers said that the intimidation of rural voters has fallen sharply.
But also observers and opposition parties pointed to problems, especially the integrity of voter lists. Government officials refused to provide a full account of the reports because they were not required by law.
This has aroused mistrust among many voters who – given the history of electoral fraud by ZANU – PF and the central role played by Mr Mnangagwa – suspected that fraud was taking place.
"They could use the gray areas of electoral law to do dodgy things," said Tonderai Mapfumo, 23, about how the government deals with voters when he went to a polling station in a primary school.
Nonetheless, a legislative period that was favorable compared to previous elections has made many voters optimistic about Zimbabwe's future.
"I think it brings reason to the country," said Kennedy Taonangoro, a banker who prepared for the election in the early morning. "I think there will be a new direction."
The results were expected later this week. If no presidential candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election is expected to take place in early September.
On Monday, a lunchtime conference, electoral officials said they had reported two presidential candidates to the police for violating the electoral act. Although they refused to identify the candidates, they seemed to refer to Mr. Mnangagwa and Mr. Chamisa, both of whom made political statements on Sunday, one day after the election campaign officially ended.
Both candidates spoke publicly after . Sir. Mugabe unexpectedly called a press conference at his home, announcing that he would vote against Mr. Mnangagwa, indicating a preference for Mr. Chamisa. In a video statement, Mr. Mnangagwa said that the election of Mr. Chamisa was tantamount to the election of Mr. Mugabe.
As for Mr. Chamisa, he had to distance himself from Mr. Mugabe's obvious approval. In recent weeks, there seemed to be an unusual rapprochement between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Chamisa, who on some occasions viewed the former president positively.
The ZANU-PF faction subordinated to Mr. Mnangagwa last November – led by Mugabe's wife Grace and former Education Minister Jonathan Moyo – stated his support for Mr. Chamisa in the endless backward power struggles and repositioning among Zimbabwean political elites the leader of the group that was against ZANU for a long time. PF.
"Vote for Chamisa," Mr. Moyo, who is believed to be in exile in Kenya, tweeted on Monday morning.
The day before, at Mr. Mugabe's press conference, as the 94-year-old The old ex-president sat in his chair and spoke in a weak voice. His wife instructed him to repeat his support for Mr. Chamisa. "Say that again," she told him at least twice.
But voters on Monday rejected the never-ending political intrigue.
"I'm not interested in that," said Desmond Danga, for the first time. "I just want the economy to get better."
Jeffrey Moyo contributed reports from Harare.