Voters cast ballots in byelections in Zimbabwe this week that will be seen as a yardstick for the country’s 2023 general election. The polls will test the “readiness” of new opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). The country’s ruling Zanu-PF party is not at risk of losing its parliamentary majority.
The Zanu-PF party, led by Robert Mugabe for 37 years until he was removed after a military coup in late 2017, has controlled the Zimbabwean government since the country gained independence in 1980. The party has been known for “severe and violent crackdowns on the political opposition, critical media and other sources of dissent,” according to Freedom House, a nonprofit that researches democracy and political freedom. Zanu-PF has also repeatedly been accused of rigging elections.
The current elections come amid a free-fall of Zimbabwe’s economy, with inflation high and purchasing power low and the local currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, suffering a lasting and painful decline, Al Jazeera reports.