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President Mnangagwa has promised fair elections and economic recovery for Zimbabwe [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]
The United Nations has voiced its support for a plan to hold elections in Zimbabwe in July.
The elections, which have not yet received a specific date, will be the first big test for President Emmerson Mnangagwa who became Zimbabwe’s president in November after the military ousted Robert Mugabe, 93, who ruled for 37 years.
A statement by UN Development Programme administrator Achim Steiner on Sunday said the election is a key aspect of the country’s future.
“Noting elections are first and foremost for Zimbabweans, Mr Steiner welcomed President Mnangagwa’s election pledge for a credible and peaceful election as an important milestone for a successful transition,” the statement said.
“UNDP is committed to continue supporting the preparatory process for the election and economic recovery efforts,” it added.
Last month, Morgan Tsvangirai, one of Mugabe’s most prominent opponents, passed away at the age of 65.
That death was seen as a significant blow for opposition parties that will try to beat the ruling ZANU–PF party of Mnangagwa.
Ahead of the July elections, about 5.4 million voters have been registered in a country-wide Biometric Voter Registration process, started in October last year.
During his visit, the UN envoy also emphasised the need for the government of Zimbabwe to get the economy going.
“It is clear from my discussions with the president and other government officials that jumpstarting Zimbabwe’s economic recovery is an urgent priority and we commend steps being taken by the government in terms of policy and legal reforms to improve the ease of doing business,” Steiner said.
The economy was collapsing at the end of Mugabe’s rule with high inflation and unemployment rates across the country.
Mugabe, a hero of the African independence movement who fought to free Zimbabwe from British rule, was accused of mismanaging the nation’s once-thriving economy to the point of collapse.
Economic issues were made worse after Mugabe seized thousands of commercial farms owned by whites.
To kickstart the economy, Mnangagwa wants to attract more foreign investors, however, some are cautious about doing business with Zimbabwe, which is rich in gold, platinum, and other minerals.
Economic recovery was one of the promises Mnangagwa made when he took office, promising change and progressive steps towards a more democratic future, after 37 years of Mugabe’s iron-fisted rule.