HARARE, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Visiting United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday commended Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe for calling for peaceful and incident-free elections in the country.
"I commended the President for making a call that there should be no violence in the future elections and urged him to continue to make such calls. I also urged him to ensure that future elections will be free and fair and free from violence," she said.
Speaking to journalists after a closed door meeting which lasted about one and half hours at State House, Pillay described her meeting with President Mugabe as "very important."
Pillay said President Mugabe attributed some of the problems which the country was currently facing to the country's past.
Zimbabwe is due to hold elections either at the end of this year or early next year after conclusion of the ongoing Constitution making process.
The last elections in 2008 witnessed unprecedented levels of violence between supporters of Zanu PF and the then opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change.
The violence ended with a political settlement which the Southern African Development Community (SADC) brokered and which saw the birth of the coalition government in 2009.
Earlier, Pillay has applauded Zimbabwe's land reform program for empowering thousands of rural people and former farm laborers, among them women.
Pillay, accompanied by Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) Chairperson Monica Chinamasa as well as farmer organization representatives, visited Boka Tobacco Auction floors in Harare on Wednesday and witnessed how formerly marginalized black Zimbabwean farmers are being empowered through the production of tobacco.
She was impressed with what she saw and heard from the farmers who gave an account of their success stories.
She said the land redistribution exercise has given the formerly marginalized Zimbabweans hope, dignity and a source of livelihood that will enable them to send their children to schools and other institutions of higher learning.
She was however concerned about the challenges that farmers face in accessing inputs and equipment, as well as transporting their produce.
She welcomed the increasing number of women involved in tobacco farming, adding that more people should be given access to the program and to property rights.
Pillay said rural women should be given access to decision making bodies that ensure that their skills are passed on to other generations.
Over 300,000 local people were resettled under Zimbabwe's land reform program which started in 2000.
Pillay, who arrived on Sunday, has already met top government and civic society leaders and is due to meet a number of officials before issuing a statement on her findings on Friday.