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Locals wait to cast their votes during the Zimbabwe general elections in Kwekwe, outside Harare, Zimbabwe.


Zimbabwe’s election: neither free nor fair

After a chaotic 24 hours that saw delays reported in many parts of the country, voting was extended in Zimbabwe’s presidential election this week. Some voters said they waited for more than 10 hours on Wednesday after many polling stations ran out of paper. At least 30% of voting centers in Harare, the capital, reportedly haven’t had access to core materials needed to operate.

Extending the vote, presumably so everyone has a chance to cast a ballot, aims to give the election – the second since Zimbabwe gained independence after white colonial rule in 1980 – a perception of fairness, though observers say the vote has been anything but.

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A man looks at the banner of Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa.


Zimbabwe vote marred by apathy and disappointment

Zimbabweans are heading to the polls today, but few voters are feeling enthusiastic about the direction of their country. It’s only the second time that Zimbabwe is holding a vote since the ousting of longtime despot Robert Mugabe in 2017, but hopes that the southern African country of 15 million could undergo a democratic rebirth have largely dissipated.

Some quick background. Zimbabwe, a British colony until gaining independence in 1980, was ruled by liberation fighter-turned-autocrat Robert Mugabe until he was overthrown in a coup in 2017. At the time, most Zimbabweans rejoiced, hoping for a new dawn of economic growth and opportunity after years of corruption and oppression under the Mugabe regime.

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Three years after Mugabe, Zimbabwe still hurting

In late 2017, Zimbabwe's long-serving strongman Robert Mugabe was deposed by the army after 37 years in power. Amid huge popular celebrations, he handed over the reins to Emmerson Mnangagwa, his former spy chief. It was an extraordinary turn of history: Mugabe, one of Africa's last "Big Men" and a hero of the struggle to end white minority rule, went out with barely a whimper, placing Zimbabwe — stricken by economic ruin and international isolation — in the hands of "The Crocodile."

Mugabe has since died, but almost three years after his departure, Zimbabwe's woes continue.

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