Zimbabwe formally opened on Thursday the nomination process to presidential hopefuls ahead of polls due on July 30.
Candidates seeking to contest next month’s presidential, parliamentary and local polls have just one day to submit their candidacy to one of several specially convened electoral courts across the country.
The poll will be the first time the country holds an election where former leader Robert Mugabe will not be running for the country’s top seat.
Mugabe, who came to power in 1980 after the country won independence from Britain, was pushed out of office by the army in November last year.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former vice-president under Mugabe, took over from the country’s longterm ruler.
Mnangagwa is one of several candidates who have registered to take part in the July 30 polls.
President Mnangawa of the ruling ZANU PF is the frontrunner in the election. The 75-year-old, popularly known as “the crocodile” because of his political cunning, has promised to reform the country’s economy if elected.
Mnangagwa took part in the country’s long struggle for independence and was tortured by the former colonial forces.
During the country’s civil war in the 1980s, in which thousands of civilians lost their lives, Mnangagwa was Zimbabwe’s spy chief but denied any role in the bloodshed instead blaming it on the army.
He has promised to bring the landlocked country from the diplomatic cold if he wins the vote and to bring about economic reform.
Nelson Chamisa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) is thought to be Mnangagwa’s closest challenger.
The 40-year-old assumed control of the MDC-T after Morgan Tsvangirai’s death.
MDC Alliance is a grouping of seven opposition parties, with MDC-T serving as the bigger stakeholder.
Chamisa is a charismatic former pastor and a lawyer with a huge following on social media and among the country’s youth.
He was elected to parliament in 2003 at the age of 25 and was a former chairperson of the MDC Youth Assembly.
Ambrose Mutinhiri of the National Patriotic Front is another politician who could garner significant number of votes with a party that launched recently. The NPF has support from Mugabe and former first lady Grace.
Mutinhiri fought alongside Mugabe during the liberation war and served under him for more than three decades. He is reported to have the support of the Generation 40 (G40) wing of ZANU PF.
G40 is a term given to the pro-Grace wing of the party.