Zimbabweans will today know how many of the 128 political parties in the country are really serious when candidates file their nomination papers to contest for president, member of Parliament, senator or councillor.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been battling with figuring out what kind of ballot paper it will print if all 128 political parties registered with the electoral body field presidential candidates.
But the day of reckoning has come. Apart from the number of presidential candidates that will contest, another litmus test will be the number of parties that will contest all 210 constituency seats.
Of course the most important question is whether the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance will contest the elections or not as it is not happy with the electoral reforms.
If they do, focus will be on the major political parties, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
Of interest will be the two political spoilers, Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T and the National Patriotic Front which is sponsored by former First Lady Grace Mugabe but seems to be crumpling at the moment.
Also important to watch will be how many ZANU-PF candidates who were either beaten or excluded from the primary elections will contest as independent candidates.
The same will apply to the Nelson Chamisa faction of the MDC-T.
In the 2013 elections some 28 MDC-T candidates contested an independent candidates thus dividing the party’s vote.
There were also dissentions in ZANU-PF but the candidates who opted to contest as independent candidates ultimately won the elections clearly indicating that they had the support of the people.
Also of interest will be whether the MDC Alliance will accommodate all its partners as previously agreed with the Nelson Chamisa faction fielding only 114 candidates.
While reports have said the coming elections will be a close contest and will lead to a re-run, ZANU-PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa seems to be a clear leader with 44 percent while Chamisa is way behind with 28 percent, according to a poll by Afrobarometer.
The key factor will be the 16 percent that were undecided.
Mnangagwa will only need to win 44 percent of these undecided voters to score an outright victory.
Chamisa on the other hand will need to sway all the undecided voters to his side just to be even with Mnangagwa.
The campaign which begins in earnest when the voters know who is who is likely to be about who will deliver jobs and a better life to the ordinary citizens rather than about change just for the sake of change.
Political analysts, Derek Matyszak, says “the Mnangagwa administration and pending elections present an opportunity for the ‘normalisation’ of Zimbabwean politics and for the international community to draw a line under the long-running Zimbabwe crisis. It is not an opportunity they intend to squander”….
“The MDC Alliance will win enough seats in Parliament to keep the new Mnangagwa government on its toes, if not entirely honest. Mnangagwa’s survival is not dependent on the elections.”
But it is really for Zimbabweans to decide and they have 46 days to do so.