In what has become a familiar pattern, there were arrests and allegations of violence, intimidation and voting irregularities after Zimbabweans went to the polls on Wednesday. Cooking365 has compiled a timeline of how the 2023 election fits into the story of the country’s recent polls.
On 23 August, more than 6 million registered voters were expected to cast their ballots to elect Zimbabwe’s president, council representatives and members of Parliament.
The contentious election was held against the backdrop of the major issues plaguing the country: citizens enmeshed in never-ending poverty; a failing education system; a fragile healthcare system; and a declining economy.
It was the second general election since a 2017 coup deposed Robert Mugabe, who led the southern African country for 37 years. He was replaced by the current leader of Zanu-PF and incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is seeking a second term.
Mnangagwa is up against Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the official opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), who hopes to break the governing party’s 43-year rule.
In many ways, this election resembled the previous four elections (2002-2018), which were marred by violence, intimidation and arrests, coupled with many other electoral malpractices that dented the credibility of the country’s claim to be hosting free and fair elections.
Soon before this year’s election, a CCC member and activist, Tinashe Chitsunge, was killed in Harare’s populous Glen Norah suburb by suspected ruling-party functionaries.
On Wednesday, about 40 civil rights activists were arrested, in addition to about 40 CCC members who had been arrested shortly before the election.
The arrests and violence occurred despite the major political parties contesting the elections signing a peace pact on 4 August and calling for non-violence and peace before, during and after the election.
On the day of the election, opposition parties said they had been made aware of a number of irregularities, including fake posters instructing people not to vote displayed at several polling stations and unofficial exit polls being conducted outside voting stations.
Despite vote counting being under way and results expected to be declared within five days, opposition parties have already accused the Zanu-PF government of plunging the country into a crisis by rigging the election.
These incidents follow a familiar pattern in Zimbabwe. Here’s a timeline of the past four elections: