(HARARE) – Zimbabwe will hold elections on July 30, according to a government notice issued Wednesday by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa will seek to consolidate his hold on power and that of the ruling ZANU-PF party. Mnangagwa became president in November after an intervention by the Zimbabwe National Army ousted longtime leader Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa and his party will be challenged by Nelson Chamisa who is leading the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Many other smaller opposition parties are expected to stand in the elections.
Mnangagwa, who is working to improve Zimbabwe’s international relations, has said the elections will be free and fair and has invited international observers to come to Zimbabwe for the polls. This is a dramatic change as for years Mugabe who for years had banned all observers except those from select African countries and organizations.
The July elections will be the first since Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence with Mugabe as a candidate.