Mnangagwa promises free and fair poll in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday vowed to hold free and fair elections next year, warning his party the contest was "nearer than what you expect".

President Mnangagwa, who came to power last month after the military toppled long time ruler Robert Mugabe, told a meeting of the ruling Zanu-PF central committee that he was committed to reforms.

“Government will do all in its powers to ensure that the elections are credible, free and fair,” he said.

“These elections are nearer than what you expect.”

Stole elections

Western countries, especially the US and the UK, have in recent days made it clear that they would not give substantial financial support to Zimbabwe until the new regime holds free and fair elections.

Zimbabwe has been under isolation for over a decade on allegations that Mr Mugabe routinely stole elections and violated human rights.

The European Union in 2014 removed sanctions on Zanu-PF officials, military officials and government-owned companies, but the US has maintained a travel embargo on several ruling party bigwigs.

President Mnangagwa told the Zanu-PF central committee that the sanctions had crippled the economy.

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“We call for the unconditional lifting of the political and economic sanctions, which have crippled our national development,” he said.

“We realise that isolation is not splendid or viable as there is more to gain through solidarity, mutually beneficial partnerships.”

Two senior opposition politicians on Tuesday briefed the US Senate about the developments in Zimbabwe and warned the Donald Trump administration against rushing to embrace President Mnangagwa’s regime.

The opposition says the new government backed by the military must first implement electoral reforms and organise free and fair elections for it to gain international recognition.

The inauguration

However, Foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo lashed out at the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance for sending a delegation to Washington saying it showed lack of patriotism.

“The advent of the new dispensation in our country, Zimbabwe, was realised at the inauguration of H.E. President E. D. Mnangagwa,” he said in a statement.

“This new era was achieved by our people, at home and abroad, who demanded change for the better.

“Selfish political ambitions should never be given flight at the expense of the welfare of our citizens.”

He described the presentations by former Finance minister Tendai Biti, MDC vice-president Nelson Chamisa and activists Peter Godwin as well as Dewa Mavhinga before the US senate’s foreign relations committee as shocking.

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