Polls are scheduled to open at 7:00 a.m. local time for the first general elections without ex-President Robert Mugabe on the ballot. The polls will close at 7:00 p.m.
According to Afrobarometer polls, voter turnout is expected to be as high as 85% across almost 11,000 polling stations. People queued at the stations as early as 4:00 a.m. More than 5.5 million people reportedly re-registered to vote. Approximately 60% of registered voters are under the age of 40, SABC news has reported. Along with a new president, voters will select 120 members of parliament and more than 9,000 councilors.
Hundreds of international observers have been deployed to oversee the voting process. It has been some 16 years since the European Union and the United States observers were allowed to monitor elections in the country.
The presidential front-runners are Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) candidate and current President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party’s challenger Nelson Chamisa. Overall, 55 political parties and 23 candidates are contesting the elections.
Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe for almost four decades, declared support for the 40-year-old challenger. “I can’t vote for ZANU-PF, what is left? I think it is just Chamisa.”
In a surprise press conference ahead of the elections, the founding president said: “I hope the choice of voting tomorrow will throw, thrust away the military government and bring us back to constitutionality. Let tomorrow be the voice of the people to say never again shall we experience a period where the army is used to thrust one person into power.”