Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader on Wednesday said he feared the government would use a blast that hit a weekend rally by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as an excuse to clamp down on opponents ahead of a July 30 vote.
Mnangagwa is the election favorite and a spokesman for his ruling ZANU-PF party, Simon Moyo, said the government was not planning any clampdown.
Nelson Chamisa, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has formed a poll alliance with smaller parties, said Mnangagwa was leading an unstable government without capacity to resolve Zimbabwe’s problems, including the economy.
“We know that they would also want to use that as a pretext to clamp down on the opposition, they would want to use it to start targeting certain individuals, certain candidates that they perceive to be their credible opposition,” Chamisa, 40, told Reuters in an interview.
Mnangagwa, 75, blamed a ZANU-PF faction loyal to former leader Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace for the attempt on his life in Bulawayo city and has said the government is taking steps to ensure peace endures. Two people died and dozens were injured in the explosion.
The presidential and parliamentary vote is the first since Mugabe was forced to resign in November after a coup. It is seen as a contest between generations.
Chamisa said he was confident he would form the next government, which would include ZANU-PF elements, but complained the electoral field was tilted in Mnangagwa’s favor.
He said the MDC was worried about “ghost voters” on the poll register and was also concerned over which firm would be granted the contract to print the ballots.
He said the army should publicly declare it would respect the result even if Mnangagwa lost.
Mnangagwa, nicknamed “The Crocodile” took over power from long serving ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017 after he was ousted out of office through a military takeover.
The July elections is being referred to by Zimbabweans and the international community as a litmus test to see if Zimbabwe can hold a credible post Mugabe election.