Counting has begun in Zimbabwe’s first election since the removal of Robert Mugabe, with the result determining the former British colony’s future for decades. Millions of people voted peacefully across the county on Monday and turnout appeared extremely high, with long lines of voters forming outside polling stations across the country when they opened at 7am (0600 BST). By early afternoon, polling officials in the capital, Harare, and surrounding towns were reporting that between 75% and 85% of registered voters had cast their ballots. Full results are not due until much later in the week, and possibly as late as the weekend. Speaking as he queued at a primary school on the outskirts of Harare – an opposition stronghold – Tinashe Musuwo, 20, said: “I am very optimistic this morning. Things will get better now.”
The two main candidates could not be more different: the president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, was a longtime Mugabe aide and is head of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Nelson Chamisa, 40, who leads the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is a lawyer and pastor whose only experience of power was a stint as a minister in a coalition government several years ago.
The two represent dramatically different ideologies and political styles, as well as generations. Mnangagwa offers continuity; Chamisa a radical rupture.