“We’re going into these polls with quite a lot of concern about the electoral process expressed by many sides, not just the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Party but also by observers like the International Crisis Group, the EU, the US,” Reuters News sub-Saharan Africa bureau chief Pascal Fletcher told CNBC Africa on Tuesday.
“There’s concern about the voter’s roll, the whole sort of electoral process so a lot of worries as we go into it and a lot of expectation for tomorrow.”
Zimbabwe’s 2008 general elections had been marred with claims of vote rigging and instances of intimidation and violence, which saw incumbent president Robert Mugabe extend his 28 year rule over the country since 1980.
This year’s elections will not have official observer missions from the West as the Zimbabwean government has prohibited them, but there will however be observers from the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“The precedents haven’t been good. We know that the past elections have been shrouded in controversy and a lot of criticism. One thing we can say about this election is that the run up has been relatively peaceful compared to some of the intimidation and violence that surrounded the 2008 election,” Fletcher explained.
“Although I understand that the run-up to the 2008 elections was also relatively peaceful but up to now, things have gone relatively smoothly. There’s still a lot of expectation, still a lot could happen. With elections, the problems tend to come afterwards, not before.”
This will be vice president and MDC head Morgan Tsvangirai’s third attempt at unseating President Mugabe.
“I don’t think anybody has any doubt that there’s tremendous potential in Zimbabwe, with its mineral resources, particularly platinum, diamonds and agriculture. I think whereas President Mugabe historically always insisted on economic independence, economic nationalism, I think the MDC is looking a bit more for conducive environment in terms of foreign investment. Obviously the goal is the same: economic prosperity, economic recovery.”
Mali, which had its democratic elections on 28 July, was hailed by the international community for the lack of violence and relative calm during the process, and the same is hoped for the Zimbabwean elections.
“It does seem to have been a pretty successful election, if you consider what’s gone before in the last 16 months. We’ve had turmoil, conflict, a coup, a French-led military intervention. Given that, we haven’t had any serious incidents so far,” said Fletcher.