On Eve of Zimbabwe’s Election, Mugabe Rails Against an Old Friend

Mugabe Holds News Conference Ahead of Election

Mugabe Holds News Conference Ahead of Election

Mugabe was speaking during a media briefing at his mansion in Harare on Sunday.

Mugabe described tomorrow's voting day as "the greatest event" which he hopes will bring back "constitutionalism from a military government".

He also could endorse someone ahead of Monday's election in which his former deputy, President Emmerson Mnangagawa, faces a 40-year-old lawyer and pastor, Nelson Chamisa.

Zimbabwe's military generals shocked the world a year ago when they seized control and ushered Mr Mnangagwa to power after Mr Mugabe allegedly tried to position his wife Grace, 53, to be his successor. "I can't vote for the people who have brought me into this state", said the 94 year old who ruled Zimbabwe for nearly four decades before resigning in November amid the threat of a military takeover and impeachment. "I think it is just Chamisa".

On whether he harboured intentions of his wife Grace Mugabe succeeding him as President, Mr Mugabe described the allegations as "utter nonsense".

Mr Mnangagwa has outspent Mr Chamisa on the campaign trail, buying all-terrain double cab vehicles for more than 300 ZANU-PF parliamentary candidates.

In a surprise intervention on Sunday, Mugabe said he would vote for the opposition, turning on his one-time allies.

"If Mugabe is able to go to my inauguration that is good news", Mr. Chamisa said in response to Mr. Mugabe's remarks.

Mugabe said he resigned to avoid "bloodshed" and defended his wife, Grace, who just months ago appeared to be positioning herself for the presidency: "Leave, leave, leave my wife alone".

Chamisa, meanwhile, said at a news conference that he welcomed the vote of Mugabe or any other Zimbabwean and that "you don't discriminate against voters". "He is a citizen".

Elections during Mr Mugabe's authoritarian rule were marred by fraud and violence, and this year's campaign has been dominated by accusations that the vote will be rigged.

The press conference was aimed at "expressing his feelings on tomorrow's elections".

The indication that the country's largest opposition alliance would not accept election results for the presidential poll has heightened political tensions.

"The key tenets for a credible election are transparency and accountability - and ZEC is averse to both", Tawanda Chimhini, head of Zimbabwe's Election Resource Centre monitoring body, told AFP.

Chamisa has vowed not to boycott the vote, saying his party would still win despite accusing Mnangagwa and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of trying to fix the result.

About 5.6-million voters are registered to cast their vote for a candidate for president, MPs and representatives in local government.

A run-off vote is scheduled for September 8 if no presidential candidate wins at least 50% in the first round.

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