Zimbabweans go to the polls on 30 July for harmonized elections to choose their president, parliamentarians and councillors.
A total of 23 presidential candidates filed nomination papers to contest the election, the highest number of presidential candidates ever recorded in the country.
The candidates include the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is leader of the party in government, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu PF), and Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, a coalition of seven opposition political parties.
Among other candidates vying for the presidency are a former deputy Prime Minister, Dr Thokozani Khupe, and a former Vice President, Dr Joyce Mujuru. They are among four women contesting the presidency.
Khupe leads the MDC-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) formation and has been engaged in a legal case over the use of the MDC-T name and symbols following the death of the former leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mujuru was deputy to the former President Robert Mugabe for a decade until 2014 and is now leader of the People’s Rainbow Coalition.
The election marks the first time that the two main political parties are fielding new presidential candidates.
Zanu PF elected Mnangagwa as party leader, thus becoming Head of State under the Constitution after Mugabe resigned in November 2017, while Chamisa and Khupe took over two parts of the MDC following the death of Tsvangirai in February this year.
If no candidate wins 50 percent plus one in the presidential election, there will be a run-off election on 8 September.
A total of 5,695,706 eligible voters had registered as of 9 July, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Of these, 3,073,190 or 54 percent are women while 2,622,516 or 46 percent are men.
More than 120 political parties have registered to participate in the elections with over 50 parties fielding parliamentary candidates.
Representatives from 46 countries and 15 regional and international organisations have accepted the invitation to observe the elections, including those from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union as well as the Commonwealth, European Union, United States, Britain, and the United Nations.
Some regional organisations such as SADC and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) began dispatching their missions in May and June to assess the state of preparedness for elections.
As per tradition, the elections are observed in three phases -- pre-election, election-day, and post-election.
In the last elections held five years ago in 2013, Zanu PF won the presidential polls with 61 percent of the vote against 34 percent for MDC-T.
In the parliamentary elections, Zanu PF won 76 percent of the vote and 159 of the 210 elective seats in the National Assembly, more than a two-thirds majority. The MDC-T got 50 seats, and about 24 percent of the vote.
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