Zimbabwe set for July elections


Zimbabwe’s first presidential and parliamentary elections since the end of Robert Mugabe’s long rule will take place in July, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said.

The polls will be the first major test for the new leader, who took power in November after a de facto military coup forced the 94-year-old Mugabe to resign.

They will also be the first without Mugabe’s name on the ballot paper since independence from Britain in 1980.
“As a nation, party and government, we are looking forward to peaceful, transparent and harmonised elections in July this year,” Mnangagwa told reporters after meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday.

Mnangagwa (75) said the elections would be free of the violence that gripped previous polls and one of the reasons for strained relations between Zimbabwe and the West.
“I have already invited all political parties in Zimbabwe to a roundtable where we all commit ourselves to non-violence,” he added.

Mnanaggwa will have to announce a date in an official notice. He would invite Western observers, banned under Mugabe’s rule.

The state-owned weekly Sunday Mail said a European Union pre-election team was expected in Harare this week.

EU head of mission in Zimbabwe, Phillipe Van Damme, told the paper it would meet the president, political party leaders and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Mugabe, in his first comments since he stepped down, said last week Mnangagwa’s rule was “illegitimate” and a “disgrace”.