Zimbabwe president pledges to hold ‘free, fair & credible’ elections in August

Zimbabwe president pledges to hold ‘free, fair & credible’ elections in August

General elections that are due to be held later this year will be free and fair, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed during an independence day speech on Tuesday (18 April), but he also issued a warning to “rogue” civic society organizations not to sow “seeds of division and disharmony” in the society.

The 80-year-old leader, who is seeking re-election, urged Zimbabweans to “say no to violence, before, during and after” the upcoming presidential and legislative votes, expected to be in August, though no exact date has been announced yet. “My government has put measures in place to ensure free, fair and credible elections”, he said in a speech delivered at an event to mark 43 years of independence from Britain.

Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party has been accused in the past of using violence and intimidation to instill fear in opponents during elections. Shortly after the 2018 polls, soldiers killed five people when opposition protestors alleging fraud took to the streets of Harare, burning tires and pulling down street signs.
Mnangagwa also warned of “voices, foreign or local, inclusive of rogue NGOs” sowing “seeds of division and disharmony among us,” in tacit reference to a controversial law, which was approved by the country’s parliament in February, that essentially bans civil society organizations from engaging in politics. Under the new legislature, the state can intervene in the governance and activities of charities and civil groups, including making changes to their internal management and funding. The law, which caused outcry from rights groups and the global community, states that violators would risk up to a year in jail.

Nicknamed “the Crocodile” for being ruthless and cunning, Mnangagwa, who replaced strongman ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017 after a military-led coup, has often been accused of cracking down on political opponents.


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