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What to know about Zim's upcoming election

There are 5 days to go to the Zimbabwe elections. This is the first election in which citizens will vote for a new president since Robert Mugabe was forced out last year.

Zimbabwe's interim president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - There are five days to go to the Zimbabwe elections taking place on 30 July. This is the first election in which citizens will vote for a new president since Robert Mugabe was forced out last year.

For those not too clued up on the election, these are the key things you need to know.

WHO ARE THE FRONT RUNNERS FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL VOTE?

A total of 23 people are in the running to officially be named as the second democratically elected president of Zimbabwe after Mugabe (Mnangagwa was placed as interim president following Mugabe's resignation).

Three of the candidates have been touted as those who are most likely to secure the most votes. They are:

Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa

For most of his political career, 75-year-old Mnangagwa was known as one of Mugabe's closest Zanu-PF allies, having also racked up freedom-fighting credentials during Zimbabwe's liberation war.

That close relationship, however, unravelled in 2017 after an alleged attempted assassination plot to get rid of Mnangagwa to make way for then first lady, Grace Mugabe, to take over from her 92-year-old husband as president.

Having fled to South Africa and following the soft coup, led by the military in November, Mnangagwa ascended to the presidential seat and was sworn in as interim leader.

Nelson Chamisa

Nelson Chamisa is Mnangagwa's fiercest opponent. He took over as leader of the Movement for Democratic Change-T (MDC-T) after its founder and leader Morgan Tsvangirai died of cancer on 14 February 2018.

In 2003, Chamisa became the youngest member of parliament at age 25. He previously served as Minister of Information and Communication Technology.

Chamisa hit the campaign trail hard in the months leading up to the election, travelling across the country to rally voters.

Dr Joice Runaida Mugari Mujuru

A former freedom fighter and member of the ruling Zanu-PF party herself, having served as the country's vice-president, Mujuru is the leader of newly-formed National People’s Party of Zimbabwe (NPP).

Mujuru's husband, General Solomon Mujuru, a fellow freedom fighter and leader in Zanu-PF, died on 15 August 2011 in a mysterious fire on the family's farm.

Mujuru is alleged to have plotted an assassination on Mugabe in 2014.

WHAT WERE THE RESULTS OF THE LAST ELECTION?

The last election was held in 2013. A total of 3,480,047 votes were cast. The ruling Zanu-PF and its candidate, Mugabe, emerged victorious. The breakdown of votes for each contesting party was as follows:

Robert Mugabe (Zanu-PF) - 2,110,434
Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) - 1,172,349
Welshman Ncube (MDC) - 92,637
Dumiso Dabengwa (Zimbabwe African People's Union) - 25,416
Munodei Kisinoti Mukwazhe (Zimbabwe Development Party) - 9,931

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE?

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), 5,695,706 voters across Zimbabwe's 10 provinces are registered to vote.

Zimbabwe election voters roll. Picture: Zimbabwean Electoral Commission

There have been reports of an inflated voters' roll with hundreds of thousands of 'ghost voters' added. The ZEC has, however, released a statement refuting the claims.

POLLING STATIONS

The ZEC has set up a total of 10,985 polling stations across the country’s 1,958 wards.

WILL THE ELECTION BE PEACEFUL?

Voter intimidation and violence have plagued Zimbabwe's previous elections for years. While a recent survey reveals that most voters feel there will not be any violence around the upcoming election, concerns over whether or not the country can totally avoid this remain.

The ZEC says it has taken "steps towards ensuring that the elections will be conducted peacefully in an environment that ensures that the will of the electorate prevails" and is "satisfied that its preparations are well on course and is ready to discharge its mandate in accordance with the law."

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