By Nyasha Chingono
HARARE (Reuters) – Eleven candidates will run for the Zimbabwean presidency in an August election, the electoral commission has said, after several hopefuls were disqualified for failing to raise the $20,000 needed to appear on the ballot.
The election is expected to pit Incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa, of the ZANU-PF party, against pastor and lawyer Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), who is seen as the strongest challenger.
The commission said late on Thursday that 11 hopeful candidates had been disqualified from the Aug. 23 election, several of whom, including Linda Masarira, failed to pay the $20,000 to secure a slot on the ballot by Wednesday, dashing hopes of a female candidate for the top office.
“I have been clear that the $20,000 is exorbitant, it is discriminatory in nature and violates the section that speaks to non-discrimination in the eyes of the law,” Masarira said.
Zimbabwe will vote for a new president and parliament on Aug. 23.
While Mnangagwa and Chamisa remain top contenders to revive the southern African country’s waning economic fortunes, an independent candidate for president has emerged in recent weeks.
Self-exiled Saviour Kasukuwere, a former minister in Robert Mugabe’s cabinet, will run as an independent candidate, who political analysts say is expected to attract votes in ZANU-PF strongholds.
Kasukuwere, who fled the country during a coup that deposed Mugabe, has harboured presidential ambitions before.
Mnangagwa, 80, is seeking another term amid an economic collapse, with the Zimbabwe dollar plunging more than 50% this month against the U.S. dollar.
Mnangagwa hailed the democratic process as he filed his nomination at the High Court on Wednesday.
“Countrywide the process is going very well and it shows that Zimbabwe is now a mature democracy. This process is so peaceful and that is what we want,” he said.
Chamisa, who narrowly lost the last election in 2018, has said his party is poised to take over government this time.
(Reporting by Nyasha Chingono; Editing by Bhargav Acharya)
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