"On July 30, 2018, Zimbabwe is slated to hold presidential, parliamentary and local elections--the first since the November 2017 transfer of presidential power from Robert Mugabe to Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mugabe's departure, after 37 years in office, raised hopes for the resolution of a persistent economic crisis and for a democratic transition ending a long pattern of human rights violations and undemocratic governance--and an end to the years of international condemnation, sanctions, and isolation generated by such trends. Mnangagwa, a former close Mugabe ally, has committed to a range of economic and governance reforms. He has also pledged that these elections will be free, fair, and peaceful. The elections' credibility will determine the relative legitimacy of the next government and its ability to mend relations with the international financial institutions (IFIs) and Western governments. This, in turn, could bolster the government's ability to negotiate a sovereign debt arrears payment deal, a critical step toward returning the economy to health. A dearth of capital is a major factor underpinning the dire economic situation, and Zimbabwe's longstanding debt arrears have cut it off from new credit. A legitimate election could also spur increased foreign investment and trade. Western donors view free and fair elections as a key prerequisite for increased cooperation and engagement."
CRS In Focus, IF10933