>> Zimbabweans will head to the voting booths on July 30th in the first election since the ouster of nonagenarian strong-man leader Robert Mugabe. It's a poll that, if certified as free and fair, could be crucial in bringing foreign investors back following decades of economic decline. President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the date on Wednesday.
Mugabe's one-time ally is seeking to bolster his legitimacy following the November military coup. Missing from July's election for the first time in 20 years will be Zimbabwe's foremost political gladiators. Mugabe and long-time leader of the opposition movement for democratic change Morgan Tsvangirai who died of cancer in February.
Instead, this election is being cast as a fight between the old-guard of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war represented by 75-year-old Mnangagwa and ruling ZANU-PF. And a younger generation represented by 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa and the MDC. Mnangagwa goes into the election with the advantage of incumbency and the backing of the army.
But critics accuse him of being Mugabe's most loyal acolyte, and blame him for a crackdown on rebels in the mid-1980s that rights groups say killed 20,000 civilians. Mnangagwa denies those charges.