Zimbabwe's president says elections to be in May or June


Zimbabwe will hold general elections in four to five months, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said, as the country enters a new era after the fall of strongman Robert Mugabe past year.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday left for a one day visit to Mozambique as part of his regional tour to apprise fellow leaders on the political changes that have taken place in the country.

The state-run Herald newspaper quoted Mnangagwa on Thursday as saying "Zimbabwe is going for elections in four to five months' time" while on a visit to neighbouring Mozambique.

The President met his Mozambique counterpart Filipe Nyusi at State House for almost three hours and exchanged views with him about the political situation in the country.

Now Mnangagwa, 75, is under pressure himself to deliver on the economy and show that he is breaking with the policies of Mugabe, whose 37-year rule since independence in 1980 turned a promising country into a basket case and global pariah.

Last week the EU's ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, told journalists that free and fair elections will be a "huge step" in defining the southern African country's reengagement with the worldwide community.

That would be ahead of the timeframe stipulated in the constitution, which says elections should be between July 23 and August 21.

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He said free and fair polls were critical in repositioning Zimbabwe as a democratic state within the global system.

The ruling ZANU-PF party has the majority in Parliament.

During Mugabe's long rule, elections in Zimbabwe were marred by vote rigging and violence. But the 2018 vote could catch the opposition flat-footed.

Speaking here on Wednesday on the fourth leg of his tour of the region in which he is apprising Sadc Heads of State and Government on political developments in Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa said free and fair polls were critical in repositioning Zimbabwe as a democratic State within the global system.

Analysts say resolving the emotive land issue could unlock foreign investment in agriculture and help mend ties between Harare and the West, which imposed sanctions over the seizures and alleged vote rigging by Mugabe.

Mnangagwa will next week travel to Davos, Switzerland, for the influential World Economic Forum's annual summit, the first time a Zimbabwean leader has been invited to the elite meetings, in yet another sign that the West is slowly warming up to Harare's new administration.