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MDC to fight for voters' roll access

The MDC fears Robert Mugabe has doctored the list of eligible voters.

A group of Zanu-PF supporters attending a political rally held by President Robert Mugabe. Picture: CNN

HARARE - The Southern African Development Community's chief observer to Zimbabwe, Bernard Membe, has expressed concern the voters' roll hasn't been released.

Voters go to the polls on Wednesday and the opposition fears President Robert Mugabe has doctored the list of eligible voters to ensure he beats his rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

Wrapping up his campaign on Monday, Tsvangirai complained that he is yet to see a list of eligible voters.

Membe says the voters' roll is the most important document in an election.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has prepared court papers in an attempt to secure the list today.

Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), a non-governmental organisation, alleged last month that the role includes around 1 million dead voters or people who have moved abroad, as well as more than 100,000 people aged over 100 years old.

The MDC believes Mugabe intends using these ghost voters to secure a win in the elections.

CONCERN MOUNTS OVER TRANSPARENCY

Anti-conflict organisation International Crisis Group (ICG) says conditions for a free and fair vote in Zimbabwe don't exist.

The group predicted two months ago that Zimbabwe is moving to another government of national unity.

Its latest report on the eve of the election finds the voters' roll in a shambles, security forces unreformed and the media grossly imbalanced.

It says the winner-takes-all approach adopted by both main candidates increases the likelihood of violence.

The vote watchdog maintains the winner will have to accommodate the loser to avoid political paralysis.

The Heal Zimbabwe Trust, another 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 Mugabe's party is hoping to regain control of.

It 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, have been reportedly dished out copiously in the run-up to the elections.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's elections chief announced on Monday that some results for the elections could be announced as early as two hours after the close of polling.

Rita Makarau said results from some polling stations could be announced as early as 9pm on Wednesday.

She said those are likely to be for councillors, while results for parliamentary seats will start to be announced a day later.

Makarau warned anyone who announces the results on their own that they will face arrest - a direct warning to Tsvangirai's MDC, which it said it will do just that.

The MDC has expressed concern about rigging and claims it has not been allowed a copy of the voters roll to check all those who register are all on it.

Mugabe has urged Zimbabweans to vote peacefully.