Zimbabwe enters tricky week

HARARE - The country has entered a crucial week leading up to the hugely anticipated July 30 polls — the first to be held after the dramatic fall of former president Robert Mugabe last November.

As the main political contenders conclude their gruelling campaigns, focus is shifting to traditional battlegrounds.

In the case of Zanu PF, the party faithful are targeting Harare and Bulawayo — the two metropolitan provinces long considered to be bastions of support for the main MDC party, headed by Nelson Chamisa.

Chamisa and his team are also trying, frantically, to erode Zanu PF’s support in its traditional rural strongholds, while at the same time maintaining their grip on urban centres, riding on public disenchantment against the ruling party’s poor management of the country’s economy.

Analysts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said parties should, within the remaining few days, win over the sceptics as most potential voters have already made up their minds.

It’s a crucial week that involves a lot of planning, including the deployment of election agents at all polling stations to monitor the polls, so they said.

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said the little time left was for reaching out to fence sitters.

According to Afrobarometer, 20 percent of the respondents to its survey were still undecided, and these could decide the election.

Political analyst Vivid Gwede said the fence sitters will make all the difference; otherwise most people have already made up their minds.

“But it is also a time to avoid making huge blunders because, as they say, a week is a long time in politics,” said Gwede, adding that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) should also utilise the seven-day window to build confidence among participating candidates, especially in the context of the stand-off with the MDC Alliance.

Latest opinion polls point to a nail-biting affair between President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, and Chamisa, his main rival from the MDC Alliance.

They have both lined up rallies in the capital as they wind down their campaigns, which, for the first time in as many years, were relatively peaceful.

Chamisa, whose support is surging, is billed to hold a critical meeting with Zec, hoping to railroad demands for electoral reforms, such as access to the voters’ roll with pictures of voters.

Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs, Paul Mangwana, told the Daily News yesterday that they hope to win over the electorate in Bulawayo and Harare.

“The ruling party is prepared for the elections. We are going to do our final touches this week,” he said.

“We are targeting key areas like Matabeleland South. The president has been to all provinces. We are going to have the mother of all rallies in Harare this week. We want to strengthen our support ahead of the elections,” said Mangwana.

MDC chairperson Morgen Komichi said during the week they will take the war to Zec before rounding off the campaigns with a mother of all rallies in Harare.

“We are prepared and confident that we are going to win. We are busy fielding polling agents around the country. We are going to have our final rally on July 28 in Harare. We are going to demonstrate on Wednesday if Zec fails to agree to our demands,” he said.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said the congested nature of events ahead of elections shows that political parties were taking this election more seriously than had happened before with surveys showing that the race will be tight.

“It’s a do or die contest; you have to persuade more voters than your rivals,” he said, while doubting if Zec would climb down to the MDC Alliance’s demands.

Political analyst MacDonald Lewanika said focus should now be on shoring up morale of the party faithful for symbolic reasons and winning over the late-deciding voters.

“This entails actual knowledge of where the parties are strong for the compelling visuals, as well as where they are battling but stand a chance to win to put effort there,” he said.

In the case of the MDC, he said politicians must turn their guns on campaigning while leaving out Zec battles to its technocrats and lawyers.

Election Resource Centre director Tawanda Chimhini said stakeholders must close rank in improving the credibility of the July 30 election.

“We know that Zec is yet to finalise and publish the final voters’ roll. Such a process must no doubt take up findings from all the analysis done on the preliminary voters’ roll availed to stakeholders.

“Addressing the inadequacies noted by stakeholders, especially if such an addressing of issues is communicated and an opportunity is availed to verify such positive action, the voters’ roll may be less of a contentious issue in this election.”

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said in order to safeguard their vote, parties must start deploying polling agents to voting centres.

“All parties need to prepare to deploy election agents at all polling stations to monitor the polls,” he said.

“The parties also need to prepare for outcome in or against their favour. The presidential candidates should prepare acceptance and concession speeches”.

Saungweme urged parties to accept that what we have so far is the best Zec can offer under the circumstances and avoid continually making unreasonable demands within the limited time.

“As much as we want democracy in Zimbabwe we also need stability… Zimbabwe needs to move forward. After the elections we remain Zimbabweans and candidates should behave in ways that unite than divide us as a nation,” said Saungweme.

Law expert Alex Magaisa said it would be unwise for the MDC Alliance to plunge into the elections without key reforms in place.


Comments (3)

Alex Magaisa should elaborate on his advice that"MDC should not plunge into the election without key reforms in place"

Secular Sceptic - 23 July 2018

MALE CLINIC: for all your natural products with no side effects, call 0714066125. free deliveries in harare

Dr Shumba - 24 July 2018

zanu pf vanoziwa kuti kutamba zvakanaka ne ZEC ndiyo ticket yawo yekuwinha election, nekusaita ma refoms akudiwa ne MDC ,because they know that if those reforms are implimented they will be beaten by MDC musi wa 30 July by 9 am makuseni chaiwo

zuze - 24 July 2018

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