ZEC chair Priscilla Chigumba said that vote counting was complete in most provinces and the first results would be announced from 3 p.m Picture: Matthews Baloyi/Africa News Agency (ANA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's electoral commission said on Tuesday there was no rigging or cheating in the first national election since the end of Robert Mugabe's nearly four-decade rule.

ZEC chair Priscilla Chigumba told reporters in Harare that vote counting was complete in most provinces and the first results would be announced from 3 p.m. (1300).

As well as electing a president, Zimbabweans were voting for 210 members of parliament and more than 9 000 councillors. Final results are due by August 4.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his main opponent Nelson Chamisa both said on Tuesday they were confident of victory, after peaceful voting in the first election since the end of Robert Mugabe's rule.

Mnangagwa, 75, a long-serving security chief who took power after Mugabe was toppled in a de facto coup in November, said he was receiving "extremely positive" information on the vote. Chamisa, 40, said his opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had done "exceedingly well".

Western diplomats and local observer groups said the race, which saw a turnout of 75 percent, was too close to call.

Holding a peaceful vote that is accepted as fair at home and abroad is essential if Zimbabwe is to exit painful sanctions and secure the donor funding and investment needed to stem chronic cash shortages. Several elections under Mugabe saw rigging and violence as his ruling Zanu-PF party clung onto power.

The winner faces the task of putting Zimbabwe back on track after 37 years under Mugabe, tainted by corruption, mismanagement and diplomatic isolation that caused a crisis in a country that once had one of Africa's most promising economies.