The case of the 141-year-old voter: Zimbabwe ballot at risk

Vote for the future of Zimbabwe not charismatic leaders say country's bishops

At least that's according to the country's voters' roll, which has come under sharp scrutiny ahead of the July 30 election, the first in decades without leader Robert Mugabe.

Since taking office in November last year, Mnangagwa has sought to stimulate the economy, attract foreign investment and restore relations with the worldwide community after 37 years of Mugabe's rule took the nation to the brink of a "failed state".

The role of the army, which toppled Mugabe in November past year, and whose former commander, Constantino Chiwenga is now vice president has been fronted as an issue by the opposition.

The strikingly old voters are just one concern. The Associated Press says that information comes from James Timba, the chief election agent for the main political opposition. Chamisa is in a coalition with several smaller parties that also took part in the rally, delivering a petition with their demands to the election commission's office. "An era which closed us out from the rest of the world", Tshuma said.

Incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa has moved to try and mend the country's relations with the West through an engagement process that has seen Western business delegations visit the country to explore opportunities. The new president is under pressure to have a free and fair election as a way to end global sanctions.

In May, the government was forced to distance itself from remarks by Deputy Minister of Finance Terence Mukupe who said the army wouldn't allow the opposition to rule if it wins an election this year.

He has reversed a Mugabe ban on Europeans to observe the country's elections.

An outgoing member of parliament for Zimbabwe's ruling party, ZANU-PF, has claimed that the southern African country can not prosper without the involvement of whites in its affairs.

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While Robert Mugabe will not be on the presidential ballot, his influence will loom large on the election as he has publicly declared his dissatisfaction with the prevailing state of affairs in the government. The electoral commission chairwoman, Priscilla Chigumba, has rebuffed the opposition's demands, which include touching the ballot paper or examining it closely.

Political parties physically inspecting the ballot paper is unlawful, Chigumba, a former High Court judge, told reporters on Monday, calling the opposition demands "an abuse of the right to transparency".

Tshuma said that Mugabe made a mistake when he told Tony Blair to "keep your England and I'll keep my Zimbabwe". The story of the single property with more than 100 registered voters is, in fact, a religious center with 122 voters, Chigumba said.

Winning confidence in the remaining weeks before the vote will be a challenge.

While Zimbabwe lacks a reliable polling system, an unofficial survey released last month in its second city Bulawayo by the Mass Public Opinion Institute put Mnangagwa on 42 percent and Chamisa on 31 percent, while 25 percent declined to disclose a preference. Researchers spoke with more than 1,600 people from Bulawayo, an opposition center, and Midlands province, which has a mix of opposition and ruling party supporters.

While Mugabe is gone, "the regime remains", said Munyaradzi Gwisai, a political expert who teaches law at the University of Zimbabwe.

The Associated Press reported this story. George Grow was the editor.

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