Supporters cheer as they attend the last campaign rally of Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe's President and presidential candidate for the ZANU PF party, at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, on July 28, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: “The moon has spoken,” many Zimbabweans joked on social media on Friday, as a red moon appeared across the sky.

The lunar eclipse that drew millions of sky gazers outdoors across the world had assumed a political angle in the country.

Red is the official colour of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which enjoys significant support mainly in the urban areas.

For the moon to turn scarlet two days before the country’s general election was a “sign” too clear for many opposition supporters to ignore.

But behind the moon jokes and the political campaign rallies; beyond the candidate posters and election euphoria, a big question loomed large in the minds of many: Where is the country headed after this election?

A veteran politician and former senator for the opposition MDC, David Coltart, said jobs remained the biggest concern for most people – regardless of who wins.

“I think the broad expectation of Zimbabweans is that jobs will be created and that the process of changing from the authoritarian regime of Robert Mugabe will be effected,” Coltart said.

Other Zimbabweans said they were concerned about the weakening of critical institutions, including the central bank and the country’s courts.

“The critical thing is the establishment of credible institutions,” said Dr Terrence Kairiza, a prominent economist. “Our monetary problems are essentially a problem of non-confidence in institutions and that transcends any policy that could be instituted by the government.”

The ruling party’s candidate in the election, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, took over power from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe last November after the 94-year-old leader was forced to resign following a “military intervention”.

Mnangagwa has promised that the country is now “open for business”, assuring locals and foreign investors alike that he has what it takes to turn around the economy, if elected.

“We are reopening a lot of mines and you can see our economic growth is increasing from the negative to the current 4.8 per cent and that is happening because we are focusing on the economy,” Mnangagwa told supporters at a campaign rally last week.