By Reuters, BBC and News24
Former president Robert Mugabe, 94, cast his vote in a Harare township on Monday in Zimbabwe’s first election that does not include his name on the ballot paper.
A frail Mugabe, accompanied by his wife, Grace, shuffled into the polling booth and spent several minutes filling in his ballot paper with the help of an assistant. A huge crowd gathered outside, some cheering, many booing.
Mugabe was removed last November in a de facto coup that brought his former ally Emmerson Mnangagwa to power. Mnangagwa is the favourite in Monday’s vote.
Zimbabweans voted on Monday in the first election since the removal of former president Robert Mugabe, a watershed moment they hope will rid the country of its pariah status and spark a recovery in its failed economy.
The election pits 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time Mugabe ally, against 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor vying to become Zimbabwe’s youngest head of state.
Voter turnout is high in Zimbabwe’s first general election since long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted, officials say.
Foreign observers have hailed the election as an opportunity for Zimbabwe to break with its repressive past.
The presidential election is expected to be a tight contest between the incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa and his main rival Nelson Chamisa.
Parliamentary and local elections are also taking place on Monday.
Opinion polls give Mr Mnangagwa, who heads the ruling Zanu-PF party, a narrow lead over Mr Chamisa, who leads the MDC Alliance. Both leaders are running for the presidency for the first time.
SA President Cyril Ramaphosa
This is Zimbabwe’s first ballot without former president Robert Mugabe’s name on the candidate list since the country gained independence in 1980. Mugabe, who initially served as prime minister, became the executive president in 1988 and was ousted in a coup by his own political party, Zanu-PF, in 2017.
Former Mugabe ally and vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa has been president since Mugabe’s removal. He is now one of the main contenders for the position of president, facing off with Nelson Chamisa, opposition party MDC leader.
He was speaking ahead of the ANC’s national executive committee lekgotla currently underway in Irene, Pretoria. The meeting is set to discuss and assess the performance of government under the leadership of the party since the beginning of the year.
It’s the second meeting of its kind, with the first lekgotla having taken place in January. At that meeting, the party gave its government an agenda and goals it wanted to be met this year.
Ramaphosa said the ANC was pleased to hear that elections had started off well and that there were no incidents of violence in Zimbabwe.
“It means that the people of Zimbabwe are determined to ensure that they install a government that will be representative of all the people of that country,” he remarked.
Ramaphosa said South Africa supported the people of Zimbabwe and was prepared to work with whichever political party emerged victorious at the polls.
“As South Africa we wish them the very best and we look forward to going to the inauguration once the election results have been announced. Everything seems to be going well and we are very pleased as a neighbour of Zimbabwe,” concluded Ramaphosa.
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