Politics

Zimbabwe election: Presidential poll poses challenge for youthful pastor ahead of vote | World | News

On Monday, the ballots will open and the country’s people will flock to polling stations to select one of 23 presidential candidates in an election that will also replace the 270-member national assembly.

Despite having so much at stake, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – founded by mineworker-turned-politician Morgan Tsvangirai who made it his life’s work to topple despot Mugabe but tragically died months before he was ousted – have put their faith in Mr Chamisa to scoop a victory.

The 40-year-old lawyer and pastor has been mocked as a “little boy” by critics, with many citing his age being their reason for ridicule.

Voter Amanda Nash told the Financial Times: “He’s too young for it.

“We need someone who has been in government for some time to sort out our problems.”

Some have also blasted Mr Chamisa’s speedy rise to the top of the party and called the politician “ruthless” for stepping into Mr Tsvangirai’s role far too quickly after his death.

Added to that, the MDC have two factions with another wing of the party being led by Thokozani Khupe causing further confusion among voters.

Mr Chamisa has also accused ruling party Zanu-PF of rigging the forth-coming election using dirty tactics.

He alleged that officials doctored electoral rolls and printed forged ballots as well as “weaponised” food aid by refusing to help poverty-stricken opposition voters.

He said: “It is in the nature of Zanu-PF to cheat.”

While Mr Chamisa’s campaign has been mocked, 75-year-old Mr Mnangagwa has been praised as having the experience to lead Zimbabwe into a new era.

David Coltart, an MDC senator, said of the campaign: “It has been run off the sniff of an oil rag.

“We don’t have billboards, vehicles, flashy brochures.”

But despite the widespread criticism he faces, Mr Chamisa has pledged some eye-catching promises.

He has vowed to add “Great” to the country’s name and to construct a bullet train to link the capital Harare to Bulawayo.

But even his ambitious plans were met with dismay.

Didymus Mutasa, who spent years by the side of Mr Mugabe after he was expelled from Zanu-PF in 2014, said: “He is just being youthful. He’s young.

“That is what all young people do. They dream.”