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Observers view poll as a litmus test on employment, peace

AFP-JIJI

While observers wade through the power-politics and connivances of Zimbabwe’s election, Obert Murinda, a Harare resident, like countless other Zimbabweans, is clear about what he wants from Wednesday’s poll.

“Jobs and peace. Those are the two things I wish for,” she said. “My prayer is that there is peace after the elections and the economy starts functioning normally again. We want to work for our families and we don’t want to fight.”

During Robert Mugabe’s 33-year rule Zimbabwe’s economy has repeatedly stalled. The past decade has been particularly painful. Inflation hit 231 million percent — some of the highest levels ever recorded — and unemployment peaked at 94 percent.

Behind the statistics is a brutal human toil. Zimbabweans who were lucky enough to still have jobs found their wages were worthless, which almost didn’t matter because shops had no stock anyway.

Many of them pin their hopes on whatever comes after the elections.

“Whoever comes must have young blood and fix the economy,” said Chenjerai Chiripanyanga, a Harare-based sculptor. “I don’t care who wins but they must fix the economy and make sure we are on good terms again with our old friends we used to trade with.”