Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe's former vice-president whose nickname is "the crocodile", is now president and the ruling ZANU-PF party's presidential candidate. Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa, head of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, are widely seen as the top challengers.
The big picture...
- There are 23 candidates vying for the presidency, while 55 parties are running in parliamentary elections.
- Campaigning has been relatively peaceful but security concerns were raised after an explosion struck an election rally by the ruling ZANU-PF party in the second city of Bulawayo, killing at least two people and wounding dozens.
- Unlike previous votes, election observers from the European Union and the Commonwealth group have been allowed into Zimbabwe this time.
- A presidential candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round to secure an outright victory. The latest polls show a close race between 75-year-old Mnangagwa and 40-year-old Chamisa, making a runoff on September 8 likely.
- The MDC Alliance has accused the country's electoral commission of favouring the ZANU-PF in its design of the two-column ballot. Mnangagwa appears at the top of the second column while Chamisa appears second on the first column.
- Mugabe broke with the party he led for three decades yesterday, saying that he "cannot vote for those who have tormented me."
The top issue...
- The issues of the economy and job creation have topped political debate in the lead-up to the vote, with all presidential hopefuls promising to fix the country's financial situation, which has been in meltdown for the past two decades.
- At least 60 percent of the 5.6 million registered voters are under the age of 40, and experts expect this to play a key role in the closely contested election.
- Go deeper: Zimbabwe's youth cautiously optimistic election will bring change.