Northland-based Zimbabweans are hopeful the opposition party forms the next government and propels the former British colony towards prosperity after decades of Robert Mugabe's rule.

Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is challenging current president and Mugabe's successor within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Clashes broke out on Wednesday night (NZ time) among angry supporters of Chamisa after official election results showed a ruling party victory in Parliament.

Three people were killed after the army opened fire in central Harare during the demonstrations over alleged fraud in the country's elections.

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Chamisa has already claimed victory and accused the electoral commission of fixing results to favour Mnangagwa. Last weekend Mugabe said he would not vote for his former party or the current president and endorsed Chamisa.

There are at least 40 Zimbabwean families living in Northland.

Northland dairy farm adviser Tafi Manjala said no one knew what would happen until the next president was sworn in.

"There hasn't been significant improvement since Mugabe left, when there was temporary euphoria, in that people said they got rid of those who'd been there long but the person who took charge didn't deliver much."

He said of concern was the protracted announcement of election results — tactics, he said, usually played out when something untoward happened in the background.

But Manjala said some things seemed to have changed for the better this time around as far as elections were concerned.

"There's been no intimidation, beatings, or hurting of people, unlike in previous elections. However, the result is just being drip-fed but people are still optimistic."

Manjala pointed out two things that must happen post election for Zimbabwe's economy to improve.

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"A democratic system in place where people not only have the freedom to voice their opinion but that their opinion counts. Secondly, the leaders should be focused on serving the people rather than self," he said.

Another Northland-based Zimbabwean, Tamara Whitehorn, said everyone back home was hopeful of a free and fair election, creation of jobs and better education for children.

She feels, this time, Zimbabweans will not put up with any party that does not deliver.

The winner faces the task of putting Zimbabwe back on track after 37 years under Mugabe, tainted by corruption, mismanagement and diplomatic isolation that caused a crisis in a country that once had one of Africa's most promising economies.

For the first time since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, after a brutal guerrilla war against the white regime, Mugabe was not on the ballot paper.