Mnangagwa promises elections by July

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was expected to visit China in April, said on Wednesday that his country will hold transparent polls before July, in the first elections since Robert Mugabe’s rule ended after 37 years in power.

“Next month I will be able to make a proclamation of elections, so I believe that elections will not be in July, they will be earlier than July,” said the 75-year-old leader of the country’s ruling ZANU-PF party at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Mnangagwa, who was the first Zimbabwean president to attend the Davos forum, took office in November and promised to hold a fair vote.

“We want to have free, fair, credible elections, free of violence,” Mnangagwa said, acknowledging that the people of Zimbabwe should directly elect their country’s leader, Parliament and local governments and he welcomed international observers and would respect the result if the opposition wins, according to Reuters.

He said the nation is “open for business”. In recent weeks, Mnangagwa has intensified outreach to neighboring countries, which he has described as “an important step in building a new, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe”.

During his earlier visit to Namibia this month, Mnangagwa said a visit to China is planned for April and set for working out more areas of cooperation. According to his office, this visit is expected to be an effort to “reengage with the outside world”.

He Wenping, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Mnangagwa is sending signals to the international community that the country is now “on the right track”.

“From Mnangagwa’s recent visits to African Union countries and to his attending the Davos forum, it not only signals that Zimbabwe wants to gain recognition from the world, but also shows the ruling party is ready to participate in the upcoming election and hope to attract more votes,” He said.

Although Mnangagwa faces huge domestic economic challenges, such as severe cash shortages and dramatic price increases of food and other household items, He said that his recent movements, including seeking cooperation with other countries, may help the African country to regain gradual development.

“China and Zimbabwe have maintained a long-term friendship that based on two countries’ complementary economics and frequent people-to-people exchange,” He said, adding that she believed no matter which party wins the election, Zimbabwe will no doubt boost its economy, which a better China-Zimbabwe relationship will “certainly help”.