The European Union on Saturday began deploying election observers in Zimbabwe for the first time in 16 years, ahead of next month’s vote.
It will be a key test for incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded the long-serving autocrat Mugabe seven months ago, and remains untested at the ballot box.
He has pledged to hold free and fair elections as he seeks to mend international relations.
Mark Stevens, EU deputy chief observer, said 44 observers have started work, and this will rise to 140 on the day of the vote scheduled for July.
“The long term observers will cover all 10 provinces in both urban and rural areas,” he told reporters.
The July 30 election will be the first in the country since veteran leader Robert Mugabe was ousted following a brief military takeover in November last year, after 37 years in power.