Local observers in Zimbabwe expressed concern Friday about the uncertainty and confusion surrounding the electoral process one week before national elections.
Reports this week from Human Rights Watch, The International Crisis Group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum predicted a flawed election. They cited procedural irregularities, political intimidation and violence, and partisanship among top security officials, among other factors.
The International Crisis group said the failure of crisis mediation talks sponsored by the Southern African Development Community set the stage for the problems.
Human Rights NGO Forum said conditions are not present for free and fair elections to be held because the ruling ZANU-PF party is resorting to intimidation.
Civic groups are also concerned that the mass media remains firmly under the control of ZANU-PF though the law requires them to cover all political parties.
Reports said the public media continues to cover ZANU-PF favorably, giving the opposition about 20 percent of coverage, mainly negative.
For perspective, reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Xholani Zitha, coordinator the of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, and Noel Kututwa, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.
Kututwa said Zimbabwean observers are concerned about governmental changes in electoral rules, and mismanagement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.