Zim elections to go ahead-says Mnangagwa

Harare – Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday general elections set for next year  will still go ahead as planned.

The pronouncement puts to rest speculation that the polls would be suspended to pave way for a transitional authority that would take charge of the country following President Robert Mugabe’s resignation on Tuesday.

Mnangagwa told a capacity crowd at the 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium, that included his main rivals in the elections, Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and former vice president, Joice Mujuru, who is leading the People’s Rainbow  Coalition, that the polls would be democratic.

 “Peace and harmony should be characteristics of how we relate to each  other before, during and after the 2018 harmonised, democratic  elections,” Mnangagwa said.

 “I commit to you today that these elections will be held as scheduled.”

As never seen before during official events in Zimbabwe, opposition  leaders Tsvangirai and Mujuru were also seated in the VVIP area with visiting Heads of State including Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, Ian Khama of Botswana and Edgar Lungu of Zambia, in a show of  acknowledgement and tolerance.

 Former heads of state Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba of  Namibia, Kenneth Kaunda and Rupiah Banda of Zambia were also present.

 Mnangagwa said while elections will go ahead, it was imperative that  Zimbabweans unite to rebuild the country.

 “I encourage all of us to remain peaceful even as preparations for  political contestations for next year’s harmonised elections gather  momentum,” he said.

 In the meantime, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said over three  million people out of an expected 7.2 million have so far registered  as voters in preparation for next year’s polls.

 Zimbabwe is for the first time going to use a Biometric Voter Registration  system, which will see the electoral body coming up with a new voters  roll.

 Voter registration is expected to end in January but is  largely expected to continue after that until the date for elections  is proclaimed.

 Mnangagwa will for the first time contest in the polls as leader of  the ruling party after its former head, President Mugabe was deposed at  the weekend on a litany of charges. –  New Ziana.

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