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Dlamini-Zuma 'confident' about Zim elections

The AU chair is on a three-day visit to Harare to assess preparations for the upcoming elections.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says she is optimistic about upcoming elections in Zimbabwe on 31 July.Picture: Jacoline Prinsloo/GCIS

HARARE - African Union Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is optimistic about next week's election in Zimbabwe, this is according to reports by Zimbabwe's state broadcaster.

Dlamini-Zuma has been on a three-day visit to Harare to assess preparations for next week's elections on 31 July amid heightened fears the polls will be rigged.

She was speaking after a meeting with President Robert Mugabe.

Dlamini-Zuma told state radio she had spoken to three of the presidential candidates.

The opposition is still worried preparations will not be in place for the election, specifically due to problems experienced during the early vote for police officers and soldiers who will be on duty during the election.

The state electoral commission said 69,000 police officers, 2,000 prison officers, 164 soldiers and thousands of election officials took part in a two-day special vote.

However, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party queried the police figures and filed an application in the High Court to stop the voting.

The MDC claimed police numbers were inflated.

It also said junior officers were threatened by their superiors to rally behind President Mugabe, a charge which was been dismissed by the police.

Opposition parties are also concerned about ballot box stuffing.

Dlamini-Zuma said she had been assured by Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission that problems have been rectified and everything will be in place.

The AU envoy also said former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will arrive in Harare on Saturday to head the AU observer mission to monitor the polls despite earlier reports that Mugabe's party was against him coming.

INTIMIDATION AND THREATS

Meanwhile, a watchdog in Zimbabwe has reported 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 claimed that unfair food distribution is now rampant and many villagers are forced to buy ZANU-PF party cards to access handouts.

It also said 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.

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