Zimbabweans have on Monday morning begun voting in the country’s first presidential election since the former head of state, Robert Mugabe, resigned last November.
There are 5.6 million people who are registered to vote in the first post-Mugabe elections which will be held in the presence of Western observers for the first time in 16 years.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, ended his election campaign on Saturday and rallied Zimbabweans to vote for the ruling ZANU-PF party for national growth and prosperity.
He will square off with 22 other presidential candidates in the polls but his main rivalry is Nelson Chamisa, the 40-year-old leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance.
Mnangagwa said once elected, he would steer Zimbabwe’s economy into a growth trajectory characterised by modern infrastructure, food and energy self-sufficiency, among others.
He said Zimbabwe’s economy was already on a growth path since he assumed office eight months ago owing to his “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra which has seen the country attracting over US$15 billion in investment commitments.
He said Zimbabwe’s GDP was expected to rise from 4.2% initially projected to 6% by year-end due to favourable policies that have been implemented by his government.
Chamisa assumed leadership in February following the death of founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai also expressed confidence of winning, saying his party will form the next government in Zimbabwe.
“We are going to be the new Zimbabwe. We are the next government in this country. Out of the 5.6 million registered voters, we expect to get not less than 65 %. We want a clean sweep to silence our opponents,” he told thousands of party supporters gathered at an open space just outside Harare.
He said once elected, the party will institute measures to immediately respond to the needs of the people as well as building a non-racial Zimbabwe that respects workers’ rights and boasts of an efficient economy. – Xinhua