Elisabeth Valerio, Zimbabwe’s only female presidential candidate, was added to the ballot Wednesday after winning a court challenge in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had turned down her nomination, claiming she had failed to meet the deadline to settle her nomination fees.
A businesswoman, scientist, conservationist and leader of the opposition United Zimbabwe Alliance (UZA) formed on May 29, 2021, Valerio said her party targets to unite Zimbabweans and build a prosperous and sustainable future for the impoverished country.
Based on what ensued in court, Valerio had paid the nomination fee using the Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS), which did not reflect in the ZEC’s bank account on time. This led to her nomination being turned down.
Born on Sept. 3, 1973 in Harare to her late mother, Isabel Pasalk Madangure, who was also a politician, Valerio expressed confidence that she would outshine her competitors in a battle of ideas.
“Politics is not about being in existence for longer or being male or female. It is about the ideas you are presenting to the electorate. So ideologically, I know I can win,” Valerio told Anadolu.
Valerio is now among the country’s 12 presidential candidates vying in the Aug. 23 elections following her court victory.
Among the candidates are Zimbabwe’s current President Emmerson Mnangagwa, representing the ruling Zimbabwe Africa National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), Nelson Chamisa, leading the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), and former late President Robert Mugabe’s ally Savior Kasukuwere, who is also facing a court challenge that seeks to bar him from contesting the election.
Valerio is also the chairperson of the Association for Tourism Hwange in Zimbabwe.
“Let us celebrate this announcement and strive to ensure that the forthcoming elections truly represent the desires and aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe,” she said, speaking to Anadolu following her latest court triumph.
“Our plea is for a peaceful campaign period, understanding that the people’s will should prevail post 23 August 2023,” she said.
But as Zimbabwe heads for polls next month, the economic crisis will be the top issue for voters and could well decide whether they hand Mnangagwa a second term or favor Chamisa, if not Valerio and other contestants.