Zimbabwe's opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa greets supporters at a rally at Sakubva stadium in Mutare, Zimbabwe. File picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

Harare ‑ Campaigning in Zimbabwe's high stakes upcoming general election reaches its end on Saturday, with the two biggest parties ‑ Zanu-PF and the MDC Alliance ‑ simultaneously staging their last rallies in the capital Harare.

Zimbabweans take to the polling booths on Monday to decide their next leader as well as legislative and local authority representatives.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commissioner Qhubani Moyo told African News Agency that all the 55 parties participating in the election would not be allowed to have campaigns after Saturday.

“Political parties will be winding their campaigns; the last day for public gatherings for campaigns is going to be on Saturday, which is 48 hours before the election day,” he said.

The Zimbabwean Electoral Act specifies that all campaigns should cease at least 24 hours before polling stations open, which normally is at 7 am.

The law also prohibits supporters and candidates from wearing regalia of their parties within a 40-metre radius in the final hours leading to the poll and during the voting process.

As part of the final campaigns, the MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, who has mounted a formidable challenge against the incumbent, Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, will hold a rally at an open space just outside central Harare, which is dubbed Freedom Square, after which his supporters are expected to march through the central business district.

Chamisa has named his last rally the Mega Rally.

Zanu-PF, very much playing second fiddle in the capital, as indeed in other big cities, has chosen the 64 000-seater National Sports Stadium, which it has struggled to fill in recent times.

Although a total of 22 candidates ‑ after Devine Hove, leader of little known National Alliance of Patriotic and Democratic Republicans, pulled out ‑ are battling it out, analysts have argued that the race is squarely between Mnangagwa and Chamisa.

Opinion polls have suggested that the race is so tight it could be impossible for either of them to win outright, a scenario which will necessitate a run-off to be held within two months.

For one to win outright, they need to garner 50% of the total vote plus one ballot.

African News Agency (ANA)