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2022 Zimbabwe by-elections begin

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2022 Zimbabwe by-elections begin

2022 Zimbabwe By-elections
Crowds amass in February as the 2022 Zimbabwe by-elections approach – Photo: EPA-EFE/Aaron Ufumeli

2022 Zimbabwe by-elections begin today for vacant local authority and National Assembly positions.

28 parliamentary seats and 105 local government seats are up for election. These by-elections, delayed ostensibly due to COVID-19, are highly contentious. The opposition accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of tampering with voter rolls to rig the outcome in favor of the incumbent ZANU-PF party.

Many open seats were vacated in 2020 after the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was ruled illegitimate by the Supreme Court and co-opted into Zanu PF. A new opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), was formed in January 2022 under former MDC leader Nelson Chamisa. The outcome will likely serve as a bellwether for national elections next year.

Expect the incumbent Zanu PF party to win a majority of seats up for election. The CCC has been subjected to political violence and suppression by the government. This pressure, combined with the Electoral Commission’s voter registration tampering, means the CCC will likely see low voter turnout. However, defeat in the by-elections does not guarantee defeat in next year’s national elections. Zimbabweans are losing patience with Zanu PF due to corruption and economic crisis. Should a dirty by-election victory worsen Zanu PF’s image, the CCC may do well in 2023.

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