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Snaking queues across Zimbabwe as polling stations open in tightly-contested elections

A group of people marching with Zim flags

Millions of Zimbabweans head to the polls today in hotly-contested presidential and legislative elections where 11 candidates are vying for the State House in Zimbabwe. File Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency

Published Aug 23, 2023


Long queues were seen at several polling stations in Harare on Wednesday morning, as Zimbabweans lined up to participate in the tightly contested general elections.

This is the country’s second general elections since the removal of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe who had governed the landlocked Southern African nation for 37 years.

IOL has established that majority of the more than 12,000 polling stations across Zimbabwe opened at the scheduled 7am, with snaking queues of eager voters. There are however some reports on social media indicating delays in polling stations opening.

Almost seven million Zimbabweans have registered to vote, in a country with a population of more than 15 million.

On the ballot paper, battle lines have been drawn between the governing party, Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and its arch-rival, the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party led by Nelson Chamisa.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa. File Photo: Jonisayi Maromo

The ballot box features nearly a dozen presidential candidates, but according to political analysts, the contest will be between the two main political parties as the two political leaders rekindle their rivalry after Chamisa lost to Mnangagwa in the previous 2018 elections.

Advocate Wilbert Mandinde, acting executive director for the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said the long queues seen at polling stations augurs well for democracy.

He said in today’s tightly-contested elections, the battle is between Zimbabweans who want change, and on the other side, Zimbabweans who want to maintain the status quo.

“The situation is that elections happen (after) every five years, and in every five years there is hope for everyone who believes in the electoral system,” Mandinde said speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

“So basically, once there are snaking queues it means that people have heeded the call to turn out in large numbers for the elections and we certainly then we start looking forward for the best.”

Opposition leader for the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Nelson Chamisa addressing his supporters during his final campaign rally in Harare on Monday. Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP

Both Mnangagwa and Chamisa have extensively traversed Zimbabwe in the lead-up to the elections, and attracted massive crowds at their well-attended rallies.

Mnangagwa's led his campaign under the mantra: "nyika inovakwa nevene vayo," which translates to "a country is built by its own people" while on the other hand Chamisa persuaded voters with the mantra: "a new great Zimbabwe for everyone".

Mandinde said the results from the polls should be published within five days – in terms of Zimbabwe’s electoral laws.