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  • Supporters of President Emmerson Mnangagwa

    Supporters of President Emmerson Mnangagwa's ZANU PF party march for non-violent, free and fair general elections in Harare. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 June 2018

Seven opposition groups, fronted by the leading party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are asking for electoral reform. 

In Zimbabwe, marches of both the opposition and ruling party have taken place across the southern African nation following President Emmerson Mnangagwa's announcement of national elections on July 30. 

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The polls will be the first major test of the new leader, who took power in November after a de facto military coup forced his 94-year-old predecessor, Robert Mugabe, to resign.

Leading up to the date, seven opposition groups fronted by the leading party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are asking for electoral reform

On Tuesday, thousands marched through the capital, Harare, to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) office with a petition of 19 demands to ensure opposition candidates and voters receive equal access to election monitoring and media coverage. 

Among the conditions are compliance with Zimbabwe's Constitution and Electoral Act; full agreement of all stakeholders on the quality, security and movement of ballot material, and the presence of international monitors at the elections. 

"It is self-evident that the Zimbabwean authorities and the ZEC lack the desire, ability and political will to conduct a free, fair, credible election," the petition said.

Participants carried posters reading: 'No to bogus polling stations' and 'Free and fair elections,' calling for the right for the opposition to scrutinize the voters' roll and for the military to withdraw from rural areas. 

President Mnangagwa has said the elections will be free, fair and credible, with a "perfectly level playing field" after he signed new reforms into the Electoral Act. 

He also said the opposition's uninhibited protesting is indicative of the democracy they can enjoy in Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa reportedly told security forces to let the protests continue. 

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said July's election date was dependent on the petition's demands being met, cautioning that further protests would be staged if the government did not comply. 

"July 30 is not just an election date, July 30 is a survival day," Chamisa told people gathered in Harare's Africa Unity Square. "We are prepared to do whatever is necessary, and the good thing is that we have the support of Zimbabwe; we have the support of everyone in Zimbabwe."

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