President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on Wednesday that Zimbabwe will hold its presidential and parliamentary elections on August 23, as the southern African country battles a raging economic crisis.

Mnangagwa, elected president in 2018 after a military coup that deposed President Robert Mugabe the previous year, is seeking a second term in office.

The 80-year-old’s main rival is lawyer and pastor Nelson Chamisa, 45, who leads the newly formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

The announcement through a government gazette also set October 2 for a presidential run-off vote if required.

Apart from the presidency, the election will also decide the composition of the 300-seat parliament and close to 2,000 local council positions.

The election proclamation comes amid parliamentary debates over electoral reforms.

Chamisa’s party is demanding access to and an audit of the voters’ roll, as well as public media access that it says will help level the playing field before the polls.

Political commentators say failure to implement electoral reforms may set Zimbabwe up for another disputed election.

Its economy is yet to recover from decades of decline and bouts of financial chaos under the leadership of Mugabe, with the opposition blaming the government for growing corruption and economic mismanagement.

Mnangagwa has said his ZANU-PF government has done well to re-engage with Western countries, but blames them for Zimbabwe’s economic woes and failure to service a burgeoning debt.

The opposition CCC has said it will restore the rule of law and unlock foreign funding if voted into power.

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