It’s all systems go for July 31 – dubbed Independence Day in Zimbabwe by politicians looking forward to a new government to replace the fractured five-year marriage of convenience.
Zanu-PF is upbeat and the MDC T (for party leader and Zimbabwe prime minister Morgan Tsvangerai) believes this is its best ever chance to get rid of President Robert Mugabe.
Dark horse Welshman Ncube (MDC N) knows he won’t win the presidency, but he hopes to gain seats and enough votes to make him a kingmaker if the presidential race goes to a runoff and neither of the two frontrunners manage to get the required majority.
Diva attitudes are standing in the way of a formidable opposition against Mugabe. Tsvangirai and Ncube could not agree on terms of how a pact would be structured. Provisional talks collapsed in September last year and attempts to revive them failed last month.
Tsvangirai and Ncube have each formed alliances with smaller political parties that lack considerable followings. A possible alliance was Mugabe’s biggest nightmare but with the opposition divided, his chances of a victory are higher.
Zanu-PF has been preparing for elections for some time, well ahead of other parties – mainly because the party knew it could force march its rivals to the polls before reforms had been put into place.
Zanu-PF has plenty of money. The party’s official campaign vehicle is the Ford Everest 2012 mid-size SUV. The party’s candidates were given SUVs to reach remote areas and money to engage in vote buying – especially food handouts.
The other political parties failed to fund most of their candidates, who were forced to use personal savings. Perceptions about Zanu-PF among the masses have changed. Previously seen as a party embracing violence, it has now emerged as a party championing populist ideologies. However, the MDC T is still in the game
Tsvangirai is going into the race for the third time as Mugabe’s biggest challenger since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980. Tsvangirai is a brand and the urban electorate loves him, as evidenced by their turnout in the previous two presidential elections.
Mugabe’s advanced age benefits the MDC T. At 90 many people are doubtful they can put their trust in such a leader.
This year there are 6.4 million registered voters. That’s two million more than in 2008, and 40
%of them are youths between the ages of 18 and 35.
That age group does not like Mugabe; they want to see a new leader in their lifetime. The economy, improved since MDC entered a unity government, and massive corruption by the Zanu-PF establishment, gives people reason to put their trust in Tsvangirai.
Surveys and public opinions predict a close call for Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
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