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

Outside a polling station in Harare today where voters began queuing before 7am when booths opened

Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe has suggested that his vote would go to Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition party, and his historic enemy.

Addressing a press conference at his blue roof mansion in the plush Harare suburb of Borrowdale, Mugabe said people should respect the outcome of tomorrow's election.

Meanwhile, opposition candidates yesterday protested against an election billboard supporting Mnangagwa in Chinotimba ward 9 (rank), which they claimed was located 15 metres away from a polling booth.

The 94-year-old veteran politician, vowed he will not vote for people who have "tormented" him. "I can not vote for ZANU-PF", the ruling party he long controlled.

President Mnangagwa, 75, who promises a fresh start for the country, is the front-runner with the advantage of covert military support, a loyal state media and a ruling party that controls government resources. But him and any other persons in his alliance, I have not met. "And let us accept the verdict".

Chamisa, a former student leader who was among the top six officials when the MDC was formed in 1999, has promised wide-ranging economic reforms in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean voters are casting their ballots in what they hope will be the first free and fair election since Robert Mugabe was deposed
Mugabe speaks out: 'I won't vote for Zanu-PF. And it was a coup'

The election is Zimbabwe's first without Mugabe, who led ZANU-PF to power in a vote when the country became independent from British colonial rule in 1980 - and ruled for 37 years. What began with optimism crumbled into repression, alleged vote-rigging, intimidation of the opposition, violent land seizures from white farmers and years of global sanctions.

The southern Africa nation hopes that a credible vote on Monday could get those sanctions lifted and bring badly needed investment for a collapsed economy.

Mnangagwa, who is accused of involvement in election violence and fraud under Mugabe, has vowed to hold a fair vote and invited in worldwide observers - including the previously-banned European Union team.

"The more the merrier", Chamisa said in response to a question about Mugabe's endorsement. In a breathtaking statement, he asserted that his stay in power had been free from meddling: "It was not the army that ensured I remained in power". "In a day's time you will determine the future of our Zimbabwe", the Zanu PF leader said.

Speaking from his home in the capital, Harare, on Sunday, the former president again said he had been "sacked" as part of a military coup and that he left office in order to "avoid conflict".

Polls, which are not entirely reliable, have only given former intelligence chief Mr Mnangagwa only a slim lead over his much younger rival.

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