Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Nelson Chamisa casts his vote at polling station on Monday. Photo: AFP / Zinyange Auntony

Nelson Chamisa and 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa were the main contenders in Monday’s election, the first since long-ruling Robert Mugabe was removed in a bloodless coup in November.

Several civil society groups are collating results in parallel with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) but are not allowed to release results before the ZEC. A source at one group said it was too early to call a winner but it was looking “very close”.

On Monday, Chamisa said there was an attempt to “suppress and frustrate” the voteat the election in urban areas where his party has strong support.

Chamisa also said the MDC would win the election unless there was rigging in rural regions, making it likely he will challenge the outcome if his rival Mnangagwa wins.

“Awaiting ZEC to perform their constitutional duty to officially announce the people’s election results and we are ready to form the next government,” Chamisa said.

Mnangagwa was viewed as the frontrunner, although the latest opinion polls showed a tight race. There will be a runoff on 8 September if no candidate wins more than half the votes.

A credible vote is essential if Zimbabwe is to exit painful sanctions and secure the donor funding and investment needed to stem chronic cash shortages.

Reuters