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Allegations overshadow Zimbabwe election -

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Allegations overshadow Zimbabwe election

Reporter: Zoe Daniel

TONY JONES: As we go to air, Zimbabweans are voting in an election that's been overshadowed by
allegations of vote-rigging and intimidation. The government of President Robert Mugabe has also
been accused of withholding food aid from opposition supporters. Against that backdrop, the ruling
party is still expected to win the poll with a majority as high as 80 per cent. The ABC was refused
entry to Zimbabwe to cover the election. Our Africa correspondent Zoe Daniel compiled this report
from neighbouring South Africa.

ZOE DANIEL: At dawn, people began queuing at polling stations across Zimbabwe, eager to cast their
ballots.

MAN: They've been coming here earlier just because you want to vote. My vote is my secret. No-one
knows what I want, only I myself.

ZOE DANIEL: 5.7 million are eligible to vote, but it's unclear how many will have the courage to do
so, particularly if accusations of intimidation of opposition supporters are correct.

MAN: No, no, no, not really. No incidents of intimidation. Everything is going on smoothly and I'm
hearing that there is no incidents of violence at all.

ZOE DANIEL: Observers from the southern African development community are in Zimbabwe to make sure
that's true.

MADAMBRA MUDZURWA, SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY: We don't see something. We can be sure
by our advice the election will be fair and free.

ZOE DANIEL: At the RG Mugabe polling station near Harare, officials were hard at work before the
doors opened to the public, covering gaps in booths for the sake of privacy and safety in a country
where political violence has been rife.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE LEADER: We're really happy with the way the
electoral playing field has been organised and I think we all agree on all benchmarks this is not
going to be a free and fair election.

ZOE DANIEL: President Mugabe has dubbed all supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change 'traitors'. His Zanu PF ruling party is accused of threatening them and withholding food aid
in a country where sections of the population are facing starvation. Zimbabwe's political system is
loaded to prevent a change of government. The opposition would have to win 76 seats to the
government's 46 to force a change because the president directly appoints 30 members of parliament.
But many people are voting anyway.

WOMAN: Yes, I want to vote. Things are very tough, so I want life to be better.

ZOE DANIEL: Some suggest the community is ready for a peaceful revolution, if not through the
election, then after it.

DANIEL MOSOKELE, ZIMBABWEAN HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: We expect that next week, if people feel that the
elections have been rigged, there might be what we call a revolution in Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe
might be forced to flee the country.

ZOE DANIEL: The ABC is one of a handful of international media organisations refused access to
Zimbabwe to cover the election. The BBC was also refused entry because of what Robert Mugabe's
government says is bias against the regime. And while election observers are in the country,
monitors from Australia, Britain, Europe and the United States were refused entry. Counting will
begin shortly, and the first results are expected in about 48 hours. Zoe Daniel, Lateline.