Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa is having to face long-time opponent, Nelson Chamisa, in the forthcoming General elections expected to hold in the country between July and August 2023.
Chimasa, the 45-year-old lawyer and pastor, is the main challenger to President Mnangagwa who is seeking a second term in office in an upcoming crunch vote.
The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), regarded as Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, confirmed on Thursday Chimasa would face Mnangagwa in the presidential poll.
No definite date has yet been set for the presidential and legislative votes, though they are expected to be held in August.
An independent committee announced Chamisa was re-elected as the opposition party’s presidential candidate in an uncontested vote.
“Chamisa has been nominated as the presidential candidate by all streets and villages”, the committee’s spokesman Shepherd Ngandu told a press conference in Harare.
Crackdown on opponents
The odds are stacked against the opposition, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), which has accused the president of a crackdown on political opponents.
Some of the CCC’s campaigns have been blocked by the ruling party and the police.
There have also been widespread arrests of key opposition party officials.
Chamisa last week took to Twitter to accuse the government of “weaponisation of the law” and “unjustly” incarcerating firebrand CCC lawmaker Job Sikhala, who has been held in a maximum security prison in since June.
He was arrested alongside the party’s spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere, who was convicted of publishing falsehoods last week.
Chamisa said on Twitter Mahere’s conviction was “evidence of the increasing attacks on democratic forces in Zimbabwe”, which he said needed “fixing”.
Mnangagwa, known as “the Crocodile” for his ruthless cunning, replaced strongman ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017 after a military-led coup.
He faces widespread discontent as he struggles to ease entrenched poverty, end chronic power cuts and economic hardship.
In their initial face-off in 2018, Mnangagwa narrowly won the landmark election with 50.8 percent of the vote.