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Voter intimidation reports raise concerns about Zim election credibility

The UN Human Rights office has reported that people are being forced to attend political rallies ahead of Monday’s vote.

Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC) supporters hold MDC and Zimbabwe flags as they gather to listen to their leader Nelson Chamisa during an election campaign rally on 21 July, 2018 at White City stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG – As Zimbabweans prepare to go to the polls next week, there are increasing reports of voter intimidation and threats of violence.

The UN Human Rights office has reported that people are being forced to attend political rallies ahead of Monday’s vote.

It’s also noted worrying use of disparaging language against female political candidates.

The Human Rights office has called on authorities, political parties and supporters to ensure free and fair elections.

Meanwhile, police in Zimbabwe have refused to sanction a march by the opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, against the Electoral Commission on Wednesday.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government says security agencies are on high alert to clamp down on anyone causing disorder.

The MDC Alliance has held two mass demonstrations against the Electoral Commission in recent weeks.

But now the authorities seem to be hardening their stance.

Police have turned down an application by the MDC Alliance to hold another protest march on Wednesday.

It gave several reasons, including the fact that police officers are preparing for elections.

A statement says security laws will be used against the MDC Alliance if it goes ahead with the march.

The party, led by Nelson Chamisa, has outstanding concerns over the printing, storage and distribution of ballot papers to be used in Monday’s election.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)