Zimbabwe electorate heads to the poll stations in the first election since the removal of Robert Mugabe, a milestone moment of hope to end the country of its global pariah status and spark a recovery in its failed economy.
The election marks a competition between 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time Mugabe ally, and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who is claiming to become Zimbabwe’s youngest head of state.
Polls give former intelligence chief Mnangagwa, who took over as president after the army ousted Mugabe in a bloodless coup last November a slight advantage over Chamisa. That makes a runoff on September 8 a possibility if no candidate wins more than half of the votes.
Nicknamed “the Crocodile” Mnangagwa has pledged to revive economy, attract foreign investment and mend racial and tribal divisions.
Chamisa, a charismatic speaker who honed his craft in the courtroom, is winning over young and unemployed voters who are frustrated with nearly four decades of Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) rule.