Ten Zimbabweans, among them unity government leaders President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, on Friday registered to run in this year’s presidential election in which Mr. Mugabe is seeking to extend his three-decade rule.
The nomination court opened its doors early this morning with Chief Elections Officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi acknowledging that they received Mr. Tsvangirai’s nomination papers that were filed in advance Wednesday.
An excited MDC-T secretary general, Tendai Biti, told reporters outside the court that Mr. Tsvangirai is Zimbabwe’s next president.
Mr. Mugabe’s chief elections agent, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa then arrived at the court 20 minutes after it opened to file nomination papers for his party's candidate, who is currently receiving medical treatment in Singapore.
Like Mr. Biti, the defence minister told the media he is confident the veteran leader will lead Zanu PF to victory in the elections.
Asked about the health of the Zanu PF presidential candidate, Mr. Mnangagwa said President Mugabe is fit, adding he is in Singapore for an eye check-up.
Third in line was Regional Integration Minister, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who filed Mr. Ncube’s nomination papers, effectively pouring water on grand coalition talks by parties opposing Mr. Mugabe and Zanu PF rule.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga denied her party had been engaged in talks to form an election coalition, adding the MDCs had only cooperated on opposing the July 31 poll date.
Mavambo Kusile Dawn leader Simba Makoni announced Thursday he was pulling out of the presidential race to pave way for a coalition candidate.
But one of the parties involved in the talks, Zapu registered its leader Dumiso Dabengwa to participate in the presidential elections.
Then there were several candidates from small parties and independents who also approached the nomination court to file their papers.
Among them are Kissnoti Mukwazhi of the Zimbabwe Development Party and Langton Toungana, who came last in the 2008 presidential election.
The court closed in the afternoon was still processing some nominations papers late last evening which they said lacked relevant information.
Electoral Commission officials said the court will be open until midnight to allow late comers to lodge their papers ahead of the elections.