Zimbabweans are gearing up for the country’s general elections in 2023, which are expected to be held in either July or August.
The exact date of the vote will be announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who must consult with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) before making a proclamation.
According to section 158 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, a general election (harmonised election) must be held so that polling takes place not more than thirty days before the expiry of the five-year period which runs from the date on which the President-elect is sworn in and assumes office.
President Mnangagwa was sworn in on 26 August 2018. The thirty-day period before the expiry of the Presidential term runs from 27 July – 26 August 2023.
The proclamation must also take into consideration the timelines for the sitting of the nomination court and the polling day.
The nomination court must sit at least fourteen and not more than twenty-one days after the day of publication of the proclamation for the purpose of receiving nominations of candidates for election.
The polling day must be held at least thirty and not more than sixty-three days after the sitting of the nomination court.
Considering these factors, the President may only make a proclamation between any of the following dates: 4 May 2023 – 13 July 2023.
The main contenders for the 2023 elections remain the ruling ZANU-PF, which has been in power since independence in 1980, and the opposition Citizens Coalition For Change (CCC), formed early last year and led by Nelson Chamisa.
Chamisa, who was running on the ticket of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alliance, lost to Mnangagwa by a narrow margin in the disputed 2018 presidential election.
The CCC has expressed confidence that it will defeat ZANU-PF in a free and fair election.
Chamisa, 45, dismissed calls for a boycott of the August vote, despite widespread doubts over the process’s credibility. “We will not allow Zanu-PF to have a free lunch, we will not allow dictatorship to have free rein. We must fight for change, and we must give citizens the right to choose their leadership,” Chamisa said. “Surrender is not an option. . . boycotting ourselves is not an option.”
However, Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader is of the view that elections are already being rigged by the incumbent, Mnangagwa and the Zanu-PF party.
Despite Chamisa’s buoyant mood, some analysts have cast doubt on the opposition’s chances of winning, citing its lack of structural and institutional organization.
Zimbabwe is facing an economic crisis worsened by hyperinflation and debt. The government is engaging with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on how to clear its debts with international financial institutions. Zimbabwe has more than $10 billion (€9.3 billion) in external debt.