A RECORD 75% of registered voters took part in Zimbabwe's tightly-contested elections yesterday, where top presidential contenders - Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zanu PF) and Nelson Chamisa (MDC Alliance) - are reportedly in a neck-to-neck race, with the first batch of results expected this morning.
Asked his views on remarks made by former President Mr Robert Mugabe that there was no democracy in the country since Operation Restore Legacy in November a year ago, President Mnangagwa said in any democratic space, everyone was free to express their views. A run-off is expected on September 8 if no presidential candidate wins at least 50 percent in the first round.
Nicknamed "the Crocodile", an animal famed in Zimbabwean lore for its stealth and ruthlessness, Mnangagwa has pledged to revive a moribund economy, attract foreign investment and mend racial and tribal divisions. I think it is just Chamisa,"he said".
"Once re-elected on Monday with a real mandate for change and a full five-year term, I guarantee you it's "Go and Go" in our country".
"Zimbabwe's economy requires commercial bridge loans, donor support, relief on its huge dollar-denominated debt and, ultimately, an International Monetary Fund program", analysts at Exotix said in a research note on Monday.
The current president is a man called Emmerson Mnangagwa, who used to be the vice-president and is now in charge of the Zanu-PF party.
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"Victory is certain, the people have spoken", Mr Chamisa said after casting his ballot in Harare as a cheering crowd chanted: "President!"
"We are pulling out all the stops".
Mr Mugabe said he resigned to avoid "bloodshed" and defended his wife, Grace, who had appeared to be positioning herself to take over.
In response to the comments, Mr Mnangagwa accused his former boss of making a deal with the opposition.
For Zimbabwe to be welcomed back into the global fold, end painful sanctions and secure the donor funding programme it needs to stem chronic cash shortages, it needs the observers to at least sign off the vote as credible.
He will need a large turnout from his supporters in towns and cities, with ZANU-PF dominant in the countryside.
Mnangagwa has welcomed in foreign media and global observers from the European Union, the United States and the Commonwealth, while opposition parties have been allowed to campaign freely.More news: Former Trump Lawyer: Giuliani Is Wrecking The Case
Head of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Chamisa is a lawyer and pastor appealing to young and unemployed voters.
However, the Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) insists that it has acted within the law, and will deliver a credible poll.
The ZEC has repeatedly defended its independence. He also said that, in the absence of vote rigging in rural regions, his party would win the election.
"Today marks the end of the past 38 years", he said.
"Let him finish what he started". "We just hope they will do the right thing".
Mugabe on Sunday said it was "total nonsense" that he wanted his wife to succeed him and claimed that he was preparing to resign at a ZANU-PF congress in December.
"Chamisa is young. He has the energy to get us the jobs we need".More news: US, EU to first tackle steel, aluminum tariffs: Secy Mnuchin
The victor faces the task of putting Zimbabwe back on track after 37 years under Mugabe, tainted by corruption, mismanagement and diplomatic isolation that caused a crisis in a country that once had one of Africa's most promising economies.
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