In 2017, Stratfor accurately forecast an ugly succession battle to replace longtime Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, noting that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa had the upper hand over his rivals. Since unseating Mugabe in late 2017, interim President Mnangagwa has tried to soften the image of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front in order to open up the country to more foreign investment. Managing the perception and outcome of the July 30 election was the crucial next stage in this strategy. The results will likely set the tone for Zimbabwe's politics for years to come.
Zimbabwe's electoral commission declared interim President Emmerson Mnangagwa the victor in the July 30 election, Reuters reported on Aug. 2. The announcement comes after the contest was marred by violence, including the deaths of at least three protesters, and questions over the validity of the polls.
International election observers noted their reservations about the conduct of the vote, pointing out that some irregularities occurred. Nevertheless, leaders from South Africa, Tanzania and elsewhere sent congratulatory messages to Mnangagwa. Additionally, China, a key ally of Zimbabwe, noted its satisfaction with the election and urged all sides to work for peace and stability.
Why It Matters
The tainted victory is likely enough for Mnangagwa to secure what he needed: a strong mandate and a general acceptance by the international community that the election was good enough. From here, Mnangagwa can push for reforms to make Zimbabwe's battered economy more attractive to Western investment. As for the country's opposition, it appears unlikely that there are any available avenues for redress. For now, the ZANU-PF system lives on.