Zimbabwe declares election day a public holiday

The Zimbabwean government has reportedly declared July 30 a public holiday "to enable the electorate to vote without hassles from work-related commitments".

July 30 falls on a Monday.

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Commissioner Qhubani Moyo said: "The spirit behind declaring the election day a public holiday is to enable the people to prepare for polling considering that this election is polling station-based. This means that some people might need to travel to their polling stations.

"It is also a way of encouraging all the people to cast their votes. If some of the people are committed on other things such as work they may fail to participate in this important exercise."

At least 5.5 million registered voters are expected to cast they ballots.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) have both sent observer teams to the election - the first since long-time ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted in 2017, AFP reported.

Previous elections under Mugabe were marred by fraud and intimidation.

Reports on Wednesday said that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his rival, opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, are reportedly likely to meet face-to-face – for the first time - before the elections.

According to New Zimbabwe.com, this could be possible if plans by a local church group to bring together all contesting presidential candidates are fruitful.

The Catholic Church-run Silveira House in partnership with other churches have indicated that they are organising a multi-party gathering for all the 23 presidential candidates.

The plan is aimed at preserving peace and "inculcating a sense of political tolerance" ahead of the crunch elections.

A NewsDay report said that candidates would be allowed to address the gathering and outline their various manifestoes.

"Our role is to promote peace and the message to all political players is to desist from violence," the report quoted Chirombo as saying.

Source: News24