With Zimbabwe’s first post-Mugabe elections a month away, there seems to be a freer atmosphere than in previous polls, but the air is not entirely devoid of fear and suspicion, including of the body tasked with ensuring a free and fair vote.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa literally looms large above the bustling streets of Harare: his smiling face beams down from giant billboards all over the city. Zimbabweans are gearing up for critical elections on 30 July, the first in decades not to feature Robert Mugabe and the late Morgan Tsvangirai on the presidential ballot.
Can the country conduct peaceful and legitimate elections, and who is most likely to win? After the explosion at a Mnangagwa rally in Bulawayo on 23 June, these questions are especially pertinent.
The mood in Harare is of cautious expectation. Many feel greater freedom to assemble, speak about politics and mobilise for the elections since Mugabe’s ousting in November 2017.
Twenty-three presidential candidates registered – up from the usual just two or three – saying as much about fractious opposition politics as about citizens demonstrating…