Elections in Zimbabwe have seen delays as President Emmerson Mnangagwa seeks a second and final term in a country with a history of violent and disputed elections. This is the second general election since longtime ruler Robert Mugabe was overthrown in a 2017 coup.
Twelve presidential candidates are taking part in the ballot, but the main competition is expected to be between 80-year-old Mnangagwa, known as “the Crocodile”, and 45-year-old opposition leader Nelson Chamisa. Mnangagwa narrowly defeated Chamisa in a disputed election in 2018.
Chamisa hopes to break the ruling Zimbabwe African Union/Patriotic Front party’s 43-year hold on power. Zimbabwe has only had two leaders since it gained independence from white minority rule in 1980.
A run-off election is scheduled for October 2 if no candidate obtains a clear majority in the first round. The elections will also determine the composition of the 350-seat parliament and about 2,000 local council positions.
“Surviving in this country has become more and more difficult,” said Basil Chindampoya, an early voter in the working-class town of Harare. “I hope for a change. This is the third time that I vote and I strongly pray that my vote this time will be important.
The southern African country of 15 million people is endowed with vast mineral resources, including Africa’s largest reserves of lithium, a key ingredient in electric vehicle batteries.