President Emmerson Mnangagwa registered on Thursday for Zimbabwe’s first national elections of the post-Mugabe era, with his main rival Nelson Chamisa hoping to rally younger voters against the generation that won independence.
Western governments and investors will be closely watching the July 30 presidential and parliamentary ballots, for which monitors got clearance to deploy for the first time since 2002.
Mnangagwa and Chamisa, who also signed up on Thursday, are both campaigning on a pledge to revive an economy crippled by a legacy of often violent seizures of land from white commercial farmers and a black economic empowerment drive that targeted foreign-owned businesses.
Those policies were cornerstones of Robert Mugabe’s near four-decade rule, which ended in November after a de facto military coup that transferred power to 75-year-old Mnangagwa, his loyal acolyte for nearly 50 years.
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The ruling ZANU-PF says Zimbabwe is at a critical stage of transition requiring an experienced politician like Mnangagwa.
Chamisa, the 40-year-old leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says the president is equally to blame for the country’s economic troubles, since he served in each of Mugabe’s governments since independence in 1980.
Both arguments appear to have struck chords among the 5.4 million-strong electorate, 60 percent of whom are under 40.
While Zimbabwe lacks a reliable polling system, an unofficial survey released last week in its second city Bulawayo by the Mass Public Opinion Institute put Mnangagwa on 42 percent and Chamisa on 31 percent, while 25 percent declined to disclose a preference.
Crucially, Mnangagwa enjoys the backing of the army, which analysts say remains averse to any leader who lacks a pedigree from the liberation war against white rule.
Chamisa faces the additional hurdle of a divided opposition vote.
Joice Mujuru, a Mugabe deputy for 10 years before she was ousted from the ruling party in 2014, and Thokozani Khupe, who leads a splinter MDC faction after falling out with Chamisa, also entered the presidential race.
Another four lesser-known candidates also registered.
“We have opened up the democratic space and everyone is excited, they feel they can enter the race and contest, which is good,” said Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambai, after filing Mnangagwa’s papers at the High Court.
Attempts by Chamisa to have Mujuru and Khupe join the MDC and its alliance of smaller parties have so far failed.
“It is unfortunate that we are in a situation where other parties have not seen the light to say that it is important for opposition forces to unite and rally behind one candidate,” said Jameson Timba, who presented Chamisa’s nomination papers.
If no single presidential candidate wins an absolute majority next month, a run-off is scheduled for September.
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Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe
Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.
The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).
The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.
According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.
It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.
“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.
“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”
The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.
Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival
Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.
Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.
But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.
“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.
The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.
Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.
The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.
That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.
Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.
“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.
He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.
“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”
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