Zimbabwe awaits outcome of first election since Mugabe ouster

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Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa casts his vote at a polling station in Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, July 30, 2018. Zimbabwe votes in an election that could, if deemed credible, tilt the country toward recovery after years of economic collapse and repression under former leader Robert Mugabe. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Millions of Zimbabweans voted peacefully Monday in a pivotal election for the southern African nation. It’s the first presidential election in nearly 40-years without former leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot.

The electoral commission says the average turnout was above 70 percent. Final results are expected by August 4 at the latest. Many Zimbabweans hope a credible vote will bring the lifting of international sanctions and the revival of a shattered economy.

CGTN’s Farai Mwakutuya spoke with voters about this landmark election.

The overwhelming numbers and verification process for a new biometric voter register led to delays at some polling stations. But it wasn’t enough to discourage voters determined to have their say. More than 5.5 million people were registered to vote in the election featuring nearly two dozen presidential candidates and nearly 130 political parties vying for seats in parliament.

Monitors are investigating the delays as well as other isolated challenges that were reported during a largely smooth process. The European Union is expected to issue its preliminary findings in two days.

Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission has reported two presidential candidates for breach of electoral laws. Nelson Chamisa held a press conference and President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a response to former President Robert Mugabe remarks, both after the expiration of the official campaign period, which ended Saturday.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which is the sole body responsible for announcing the final results, will do so within five days of the vote. A presidential candidate needs 50 percent plus one vote for an outright win. There will be a runoff September 8 if no candidate wins more than half the votes.

At stake in the landmark presidential election is a chance for Zimbabwe to move to a democracy free from international sanctions. The country suffered crippling hyperinflation under Mugabe. Its hoping free and fair elections will lead the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to start giving it loans again and the United States, European Union and others to lift sanctions.