Zimbabweans React to Robert Mugabe's Surprise Press Conference

Zimbabweans React to Robert Mugabe's Surprise Press Conference

Zimbabweans React to Robert Mugabe's Surprise Press Conference

Moyo, who fled Zimbabwe during the military takeover of government in November past year that forced former president Robert Mugabe to resign, has been pushing a pro-Chamisa campaign on social media for several weeks.

Mr Mugabe said he resigned to avoid "bloodshed" and defended his wife, Grace, who had appeared to be positioning herself to take over.

"I must say clearly, I can't vote for people who have tormented me. I can't. I will make my case among the other 22 [out of the 23 candidates]", said a frail-looking Mugabe in a rare public appearance from his mansion in the capital Harare.

Mnangagwa was later nominated as the party's flag bearer in elections in which more than five million Zimbabweans are expected to take part.

But the bulk of his two-hour long missive was a hint at that he would vote for opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa on Monday because ZANU-PF had caused him too much pain.

Mugabe, one of the last "Big Men" of African politics, still looms large over Zimbabwean politics and he may yet influence the first vote without his name on the ballot paper since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Mr Mugabe added that, since he was forced from office past year, "the people of Zimbabwe have not been free".

"Matebeleland can not afford to throw away the presidential vote by allowing its vote to be divided by [President Emmerson] Mnangagwa through his sponsored candidates".

Polls, which are unreliable, give former intelligence chief Mnangagwa a slim lead over Chamisa.

The cash-strapped and impoverished country, which has known decades of repressive rule, faces severe economic challenges.

Many Zimbabweans have left the country in search of work in South Africa.

The most recent survey conducted by a research organization, Afro Barometer, put Mr Mnangagwa ahead of the rest of the candidates with 40%, followed by projected closest rival Mr Chamisa at 37%.

He has survived several assassination attempts blamed on supporters of Mr Mugabe.

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

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