Zimbabwe’s Election Challenges and New Carbon Trading Law


By Christine Puri

On August 23rd, Zimbabweans united at the polls with hopes of electing a leader capable of addressing the country's pressing issues, particularly the ailing state of the economy. However, the promise of a seamless election was met with several challenges as both voters and election observers encountered hurdles that cast a shadow over the electoral process.

  • Delayed Voting and Incomplete Voter Rolls: Several voters reported that their names were missing from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) voters roll, both at their designated polling stations and other stations that they were referred to. Additionally, voting was delayed in some units which had a discouraging effect on voters.
  • Observers Setback: The police raided the observation center run by the Zimbabwe Election Service Network (ZESN) and the Election Resource Center (ERC) – two local civil societies. At least 37 staff conducting election monitoring for both organizations were arrested, and all electronics were seized.
  • Misinformation and Intimidation: Reports have surfaced about voter intimidation and disinformation by Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (FAZ), a dubious organization allegedly affiliated with the ruling party. For instance, it was reported that FAZ distributed fliers claiming that the opposition’s candidate had withdrawn from the election.

Although the election was firmly criticized by the opposition and international observers, the electoral commission announced the incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZANU–PF, as the victor, securing his second term as president with 52.6 percent of the votes. His main rival, Nelson Chamisa of CCC got 44 percent of the votes.

As we navigate the aftermath of Mnangagwa’s re-election, we highlight one crucial policy he must address in his second term: Zimbabwe’s updated carbon trading law.

Zimbabwe recently issued a revision to its carbon trading law, which will now allow carbon-offset project developers to retain 70% of project proceeds. This revision follows 3 months after the Zimbabwean government’s sudden cancellation of projects and claims to 50% of proceeds, which concerned investors in the carbon credit market. In the previous law, 30% would go to foreign investors and 20% to local partners. The key points of the revised law include:

  • 70% of proceeds are to be retained by project developers, however at least 25% of that share must be invested in local communities.
  • The remaining 30% will be an Environmental Levy put into the Environmental Fund. The levy would be distributed as follows: climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives (55%), climate disaster loss and damage relief (5%), local authority levies (10%), administrative costs (15%), and the Treasury (15%).
  • These rules apply for the first 10 years of the project, after which they will be renegotiated based on current conditions.

Zimbabwe ranks as the twelfth largest carbon offset producer globally, generating 4.2 million credits from 30 projects last year. The country’s biggest project covers 785,000 hectares of forest in northern Kariba. The project is community-based and collaborates with locals under the administration of four Rural District Councils. To ensure the growth of this sector, there is a need for the Mnangagwa government to avoid abrupt regulatory shifts that could discourage investment. Zimbabwe's dedication to community welfare is indeed noteworthy, but fostering trust also requires transparent documentation of the Environmental Levy's implementation and genuine community inclusion within projects.