Zimbabwe Election: Inflation’s Impact on Voters and Potential Consequences

Zimbabweans are heading to the polls to participate in the presidential and parliamentary elections, which have been greatly influenced by the country’s high inflation rate. With the day declared a public holiday to facilitate voting, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is facing ten challengers, including Nelson Chamisa of the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). A presidential candidate must secure more than 50% of the vote to win, and in case of no clear winner, a run-off will be held six weeks later.

This election marks the first since the passing of Robert Mugabe, who was a dominating figure in Zimbabwean politics for decades. Mugabe’s death in 2019 came two years after his ousting in a military takeover, which resulted in Mnangagwa assuming the position of the country’s leader.

As polling stations prepare to open, election officials have been diligently setting up voting centers, while also ensuring that political posters in close proximity to the stations are removed to comply with electoral laws. The police force has been deployed nationwide to maintain peace, with additional support from prison officers. Police chief Godwin Matanga claims that the pre-election period has been relatively peaceful, despite a few skirmishes. However, opposition parties have complained about a disproportionate number of banned or disrupted rallies, with one CCC supporter having lost their life in an act of violence earlier this month.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has cautioned voters against wearing nail varnish or nail extensions on their left pinkie fingers, as these will be marked with indelible ink after voting. Some monitoring groups have raised concerns over alleged irregularities on the voters’ roll, such as names being relocated from their regular voting stations to other areas. Additionally, last-minute boundary changes have drawn criticism, potentially leaving voters unaware of their newly assigned polling stations.

Mnangagwa, who seeks a second term in office, is eager to gain international validation for the election in order to restructure Zimbabwe’s foreign debt and potentially unlock lines of credit that have been frozen for over two decades. The president has been grappling with fluctuating inflation rates, which were in single digits at the end of 2017 but had soared to 176% by June. The most recent figures indicate a slight decrease to 77.2% in July, down from 101.3%. Zanu-PF, the ruling party, did not prepare a manifesto, arguing that the president’s accomplishments speak for themselves, particularly in the areas of mining and infrastructure investments. In contrast, the CCC asserts that the general population has not reaped the benefits, with one in four Zimbabweans currently unemployed. Chamisa, the opposition candidate, plans to eliminate the volatile local currency if he secures victory.

The polls are scheduled to close at 19:00 local time (17:00 GMT), with the presidential results expected within five days. This election is crucial for the future direction of Zimbabwe and will determine the country’s economic stability, as well as its standing in the international community. With the high inflation rates remaining a key concern for voters, their choice at the polls will have a significant impact on the country’s future trajectory.