10 things you should know about the Zimbabwe election

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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.  (Markus Schreiber, AP)
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Markus Schreiber, AP)

Zimbabwe goes to the polls to elect a new president and parliament on July 30. Here are ten things you should know about the election.

1. This year is election is the first since 1980 when white-minority rule ended in Zimbabwe that Robert Mugabe’s name won't feature on the ballot paper. The despot was forced to quit after the military took control of the country briefly in 2017 and the government threatened to impeach him.

2. Observers from the international community will be allowed to scrutinise the election for the first time since 2002. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has invited several observers from international and African countries in an effort to restore transparency and credibility to the election process.

3. About 5.5 million Zimbabweans have registered to vote of which 200 000 are new voters, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

4. Altogether 23 candidates will contest the presidential election. Fifty-five parties are also contesting the parliamentary election, the biggest number by far in Zimbabwe's post-colonial history.

5. The front-runners in the presidential race are Zanu-PF's Mnangagwa, 75, and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, a 40-year-old lawyer and pastor who took over leadership of the party after its founder, Morgan Tsvangirai, died in February.

6. The presidential term is five years and the president is elected by a majority. A second round of voting takes place if no candidate receives a majority in the first round.

7. More than 7 000 postal votes have already been cast in the election by members of the police, military and diplomats who will be on duty on election day. The MDC has claimed the proper procedures were not followed by the as they were forced to vote while their commanding officers were watching, Bloomberg reported. 

8. Zimbabweans living abroad are not allowed to vote. The Zimbabwe Constitutional Court ruled on May 30 that Zimbabweans living abroad can't be allowed to vote based on the residency requirements of the constituency-based electoral system which excludes citizens who cannot show residency in a particular constituency.

9. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has banned a list of 16 symbols from use by political parties on their election campaign material. They include the elephant, buffalo, rhino, snake, owl, sword, axe, wreath and flaming torch. While no official explanation has been given, the symbols are officially banned by the Electoral Act. In June, the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) had to change their party symbol from an elephant to a shield in order to be able to take part in the election. See the full list of banned symbols here.

10. An investigation by a team of experts found more than 250 000 errors or so-called "ghost voters" on the voter’s roll. The ZEC has denied these allegations and said a new finger print ID system will catch duplicate voters.

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