Zim elections in full swing

Asked whether he can manage another term as president, Mugabe replied, "Why not?"

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) casts his vote by his wife Grace and daughter Bona (R) at a polling booth in a school in Harare on July 31, 2013. Picture: AFP

HARARE - Zimbabweans have turned out in large numbers on Wednesday afternoon to place their votes in a fiercely contested election pitting veteran President Robert Mugabe against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has vowed to push Zanu-PF's Mugabe into retirement after 33 years in power.

Both leaders have promised to respect the outcome of the polls.

With no reliable opinion polls, it's unclear whether Tsvangirai will succeed in his third attempt to unseat the 89-year-old but both sides are predicting landslide wins.

Mugabe has described the elections as a "chance for Zimbabweans to choose what is free and fair" and an opportunity to vote for a party that will give them "a better life".

The prime contenders in the presidential contest have cast their ballots in the capital Harare where long lines have formed outside polling stations.

The process so far has been described as "peaceful" but "slow".

An uncharacteristically media-friendly Mugabe was stopped by reporters when he emerged from a polling station after voting.

One asked him, considering his age, whether he would serve out his full term if he won, to which he replied, "Why not?"

He denied allegations that his party was planning to rig the election, saying the accusation was simply politicking by the opposition.

He said there was no pressure on any voters and there would be a fair conclusion to the election.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has said it's worried about a possible increase in violence and human rights abuses after the election.

But police spokesperson Charity Charamba has told the state's ZBC radio station there have been no reports of trouble so far.