Under the election rules the winning candidate must get at least 50% of the vote or face a run-off against the closest challenger. Makoni, a former member of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, is running as an independent. Former labor leader Tsvangirai heads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
If Makoni fails to win the election he and Tsvangirai will fight Mugabe together in the second round, Nkosana Moyo, a spokesman for Makoni, told reporters in Johannesburg yesterday.
Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980, won elections in 2000, 2002 and 2005 that were marred by violence and electoral irregularities, according to most observers. Western observers and media have been barred from monitoring the current elections.