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Concern over Zim elections

Zimbabwe is scheduled to go to the polls on 31 July.

A voter registration official inspects identity particulars at Lotshe Primary School in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on 7 May 2013 during the mobile voter registration exercise. Picture: AFP

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's Rita Makarau says the commission is printing 8 million ballot papers for next week's elections even though there are only 6.2 million registered voters.

The country goes to the polls on 31 July.

Makarau says the commission can't just rely on one printing company to print the ballot papers.

She says this is specifically after the government run printers let them down during the special vote for soldiers last week when they weren't able to cope with the tight time frames.

Makarau says the commission has allowed for a 35 percent margin so that ballots won't run short.

The opposition is still worried preparations won't be in place for the elections.

They are also concerned about ballot box stuffings.

INTIMIDATION AND THREATS

Meanwhile, a watchdog in Zimbabwe is reporting that most human rights violations in the run-up to this month's polls have occurred in the Masvingo province, an area that President Robert Mugabe's party is hoping to regain control of.

The Heal Zimbabwe Trust claims that unfair food distribution is now rampant and many villagers are forced to buy ZANU-PF party cards to access handouts.

It also claims soldiers are forcing and threatening villagers to attend rallies.

Food, t-shirts and in some cases free medical care, are being dished out copiously in the run-up to the elections.

On Saturday, the first lady distributed 20 tons of maize meal and sugar beans at one rally alone.

PRESIDENCY REGRETS ZULU'S REMARKS

The Presidency has expressed its regret over statements attributed to the South African team mediating in Zimbabwe.

President Jacob Zuma's international relations advisor, Lindiwe Zulu, reportedly criticised Zimbabwe saying there are still a lot of things that need to be sorted out, such as apparent irregularities with a special vote.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe then called on the Zuma to rein Zulu in and stop her from commenting on the country as only Zuma is allowed to do so.

Presidential Spokesman Mac Maharaj said, "The Presidency wishes to correct in particular the reports this weekend that President Zuma telephoned President Mugabe to express his unhappiness about preparations for the Zimbabwean elections. No such telephone call was made. The report is incorrect."

Earlier this month Mugabe launched a blistering attack on Zulu, describing her as stupid and idiotic.

While Mugabe didn't actually name Zulu, there was no mistaking who he was referring to.

Zulu had backed opposition calls for a poll delay, for at least a month, to allow for some reforms.

Mugabe hit back referring only to what he called "the utterances of a stupid, idiotic woman in South Africa".

He said his party's failure to win the 2008 election outright had led to what he called "a street woman from South Africa making utterances about Zimbabwe".

He called on aspiring Zanu PF Member of Parliament wage a 'do or die' fight to regain political control.

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