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Zuma confident in Zim democracy

The President called for peace to be maintained during the Zimbabwean elections.

FILE: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

PRETORIA - President Jacob Zuma has wished Zimbabweans well for their elections, saying he's confident they'll prove that democracy can thrive in the country.

Speaking after an HIV and AIDS meeting with Hollywood actress Charlize Theron at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Monday, Zuma said there was a positive atmosphere in Zimbabwe.

He says political parties there have been allowed to campaign freely.

"Zimbabweans finally produced a new constitution which is now guiding the elections, as it was desired by everyone."

Zuma says Zimbabweans appear to have learnt from their mistakes during the previous elections but called for a peaceful vote.

"Have the election in peace so it can be declared free and fair so that the Zimbabweans can then be faced with the task of reconstructing Zimbabwe."

The country goes to the polls on Wednesday.

Zuma's comments come amid strained political relations with Robert Mugabe's government.

Over a week ago, the Presidency expressed its regret over statements attributed to the South African team mediating in Zimbabwe.

Zuma's international relations advisor, Lindiwe Zulu, reportedly criticised Zimbabwe saying there were still many things that need to be sorted out in the run-up to the vote.

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.

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".

HEIGHTENED POLITICAL TENSION

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reported on Sunday that top party official Morgan Komichi, the party's deputy national chairperson, was arrested in Harare, three days before this week's elections.

Addressing thousands of supporters in Chinhoyi on Saturday, Tsvangirai said Mugabe had stolen the elections in 2002 and 2008.

Tsvangirai warned President Robert Mugabe not to "steal" the vote on Wednesday, so that his veteran rival can exit office with dignity.

After two previous polls condemned by observers as unfair, Tsvangirai is vying to end Mugabe's 33-year rule and a four-year shaky coalition, forced after the chaotic elections in 2008.

Anticipation is rising ahead of Wednesday's vote. The lead-up has been marred by flawed voter registration and chaotic early polling for security forces.