2018 ELECTIONS: 23 Candidates in Battle for Power

16 Jun 2018 | R M Ertner
MDC Alliance Election Poster

Twenty-three political candidates have entered the election campaigns to lead the southern African country of Zimbabwe in the country’s historic election next month, the highest number of candidates since the country -then still Rhodesia – gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980.

Among those committed to contest the presidency is incumbent acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power in November last year after long-term dictator Robert Mugabe was ousted in the softest “coup” of all times. Mnangagwa – often also referred to as “The Crocodile” or simply “ED” is Mugabe’s former deputy, and represents Zimbabwe’s leading ZANU PF party.

Also with his name on a very strong ticket is Nelson Chamisa, the young leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, MDC Alliance, and successor of the late Morgan Tsvangirai.

The large number of candidates “is likely to work in Mnangagwa’s favor by splitting the opposition vote,” William Atwell, practice leader for Sub-Saharan Africa at emerging markets advisory firm Frontier Strategy Group was quoted.

The election, to be held on July 30, is momentous because it will be the first without Mugabe on the ticket in nearly four decades. Mnangagwa has pledged that the vote will be free and fair, and has invited western observers. A delegation from the European Union will be present.

Attwell added that he expected Mnangagwa to be re-elected, “albeit not with a thumping majority.” The sitting president could benefit from his incumbency, and has sought to present himself as a reformer.

Mnangagwa has pushed reform in Zimbabwe in an attempt to heal the economic wounds left from previous decades of mismanagement, which resulted in hyperinflation. He has courted foreign investors, and when launching the ZANU PF manifesto in early May, said that $11 billion had been committed. By following through with his promises made in Davos, Switzerland, at the WEF, he was “pushing all the right buttons” as an educated Uber Driver recently put it.

Zimbabwe has also applied to re-join the Commonwealth, a bloc of former U.K. colonies which could bear economic fruit despite the looming BREXIT consequences

Earlier this week Mnangagwa hosted the China-Zimbabwe Business Forum in the capital Harare, at which he presented Chinese investors with an array of areas in which to put their money, a step that might seem right in the eyes of a cash-stricken interims government battling for remaining in power, but sending the wrong signals to the remaining international investor community.

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