HARARE ‑ Zimbabwe will hold elections to chose a new president between 21 July and 22 August this year, the country’s electoral body has announced.

The polls will be Zimbabwe's first without the spectre of aged Robert Mugabe, 94, who was forced to resign in November after a military takeover, and late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The popular opposition leader succumbed to colon cancer earlier this month.

Zanu PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa,75, who took over power from Mugabe, a man he had walked by his side for more than 50 years, will face-off against 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T interim president.

Chamisa will run as MDC Alliance leader - a grouping of seven opposition parties that include MDC-T, the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, Zimbabwe People First, Multi-racial Christian Democrats, Zanu Ndonga, Transform Zimbabwe and the People’s Democratic Party, led by former finance minister Tendai Biti.

On Monday Justice Priscilla Chigumba the new chairperson of the  Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) said while it was the prerogative of the president to proclaim the election date, it has to be done within the confines of the constitution.

Chigumba, who was appointed at the end of last month, said the constitution of Zimbabwe “outlines [that] a general election election must take place not more than 30 days before the expiry of the five year period”.

The last general elections were held on 31 July 2013 and the president-elect was sworn in on 22 August.

“It follows that the next general elections should be, thus, held on any date between 21 July and 22 August 2018,” explained Chigumba.

She added that while the commission awaited the proclamation of the exact election date, they were “decrypting data from the biometric voter registration and preliminary cleaning of data collected during the blitz phases as it awaits the delivery of de-duplication software”.

“After data de-duplication, a provisional voters’ roll will be produced and opened for public inspection before the final roll is printed,” Chigumba said.

African News Agency/ANA