ZIMBABWE’S political risk before and after the general elections slated for later this year will derail the relative economic stability achieved during the last quarter of 2022, a new report by a brokerage and research firm has warned.
The southern African nation has a history of disputed election outcomes which have often triggered spates of political violence in most urban centres.
After the near-collapse of the domestic currency prompted by excessive money supply, Zimbabwe’s economy had been floundering during the better part of last year, forcing the authorities to gazette the use of the United States dollar.
While the country’s electoral management body has not announced the dates for the elections, indications are that the polls may be held after the second quarter of the year. As debate on the delimitation exercise which will pave way for the elections continues, the main political parties have begun campaigning and electioneering albeit in a politically-charged environment.
“An analysis of past events in Zimbabwe indicates that it is very likely to experience some level of political violence in 2023,” Morgan & Co said in its latest research note titled Zimbabwe Economic Outlook 2023 — Battle Of The Two Lions.
“Campaigning for 2023 is in full swing . . . The main political parties for the 2023 presidential elections are the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the Citizens’ Coalition for Change. It is Chamisa vs President Mnangagwa.”
During the last elections held on 31 July 2018, incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa polled 50.8% of the vote, while his archrival Nelson Chamisa, who then led the Movement for Democratic Alliance, had 44.3% of the vote which the opposition unsuccessfully challenged before the courts.
A day after the polls, security forces opened fire of protesters who expressed concern over delays in announcing the election results, saying the outcome had been manipulated.
An Afrobarometer survey released last June shows that 33% will vote for the CCC leader, while 30% of the voters Mnangagwa will choose Mnangagwa.
Analysts now say ongoing persecutions targeting opposition activists and political violence unleashed on those opposing Mnangagwa’s party may result in voter apathy and swing votes in favour of the ruling party.
“However one must understand the demographics and voter trends . Zimbabwe is a youthfull country with approximately 70% of its 15.1 million people under the age of 35. Generally the higher number of voters are the older generation, a significant number of youth are not registered to vote. Even if they do, they do not show up on polling day,” Morgan & Co further says.
“Meanwhile Zanu PF is on an aggressive campaign to attract new members to the party with a target of mobilising five million voters. Zanu PF has a strong stronghold in rural areas, where it has been accelerating its campaign agenda.”