Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Tomorrow Polls Should Trash Away Military Govt: Mugabe

GETTY    
     OUSTED Mugabe was removed from power last November in a military-backed coup GETTY OUSTED Mugabe was removed from power last November in a military-backed coup
Andrew Cummings | 31 July, 2018, 13:00

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 previous year, President Mnangagwa said in any democratic space, everyone was free to express their views.

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.

At one polling station in the capital Harare, officials counted large piles of votes using gas lanterns and candles late into the night.

Voters turned out in huge numbers to cast their ballots in the first election since Robert Mugabe was ousted as president. "I was a fool to have him next to me", he said of Mnangagwa, whom he accused of conniving with the military chief to pull off a "coup". I have to see a better Zimbabwe for my kids. He voted and told reporters he took Mugabe's criticism in stride, saying: "He is a citizen. I am not afraid".

"I can't vote for Zanu-PF, I can't vote for the people who have brought me into this state", Mugabe said during a press conference in the garden of his home in Harare on Sunday.

Mugabe, wearing a dark suit and red tie, was greeted with cheers at the polling station but did not answer journalists' questions about who he voted for.

"I have no doubt that by end of day today we should be very clear as to an emphatic voice for change".

Inside polling stations, voters were given three ballot papers: one for their presidential pick, another for member of parliament and a third for local councillor.

Zanu-PF deputy legal secretary and former deputy justice minister Fortune Chasi told VOA that, "Mr. Mnangagwa announced on Saturday that he had finished his campaign when he addressed a rally at the National Sports Stadium in Harare".

"Winning resoundingly... We now have results from the majority of the over 10 000 polling stations".

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But Chamisa, 40, who has performed strongly on the campaign trail, hopes to tap into a young population that could vote for change.

Chamisa said he had his own results from most of the almost 11,000 polling stations, though said he would wait for the official tally.

Chamisa raised fraud allegations on Monday, saying his victory would be assured if rigged ballots were excluded.

On Monday, he alleged there was a "deliberate attempt to suppress" voting in urban areas - MDC strongholds.

The election is Zimbabwe's first without Mugabe, who led ZANU-PF to power on independence from Britain in 1980 and clung to power for 37 years.

Elections under Mugabe were often undermined by violence, rigging and voter intimidation.

Polling in Zimbabwe is uncertain, but a recent Afrobarometer survey of 2,400 people put Mnangagwa on 40 per cent and Chamisa on 37 per cent, with 20 per cent undecided.

Mnangagwa has welcomed in foreign media and worldwide observers from the EU, United States and the Commonwealth, while opposition parties have been freely allowed to campaign.

The new government will face mass unemployment and an economy shattered by the seizure of white-owned farms under Mugabe, the collapse of agriculture, hyperinflation and an investment exodus.

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