Fairness pledge
 
In the run-up to the elections, Zimbabwe's government and opposition have sparred over whether the vote, in which Robert Mugabe is seeking a sixth term as president, will be free and fair.

"We believe that the election will be free and fair for everybody. Of course this is to the chagrin of our detractors led by London and Washington who have wished chaos"

Simon Moyo, Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa

Officials from Zanu-PF say the poll will be transparent and equal, with Simon Moyo, Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, pledging a clean bill of health for the vote.

"Things are all in place, the country is so peaceful. Political parties are conducting themselves exceedingly well, carrying out their rallies, their campaign," he said.

"We believe that the election will be free and fair for everybody. Of course this is to the chagrin of our detractors led by London and Washington who have wished chaos ... That won't happen. 

"We are going to continue with this peaceful atmosphere."

But Tsvangirai said that the presidential vote could also be rigged in favour of Mugabe because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is planning to those ballots at a separate venue to the parliamentary votes.

Observer teams

Critics also say that Zanu-PF could unfairly benefit from an electoral law which excludes anyone who has not been resident in a particular constituency or province or has been outside the country for more than a year from voting.

Mugabe is seeking to extend a 28-year
run as Zimbabwe's president [AFP]
Millions of Zimbabweans have migrated to other countries after experiencing years of economic hardship and fear of political victimisation.

The MDC is also questioned whether observer teams from the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC), and some other regions will be impartial, given that most were handpicked by the government.

The South African government on Thursday urged all Zimbabweans to ensure that they create conditions for free and fair elections next week Saturday.

"The South African government appeals to all Zimbabweans to do everything in their power to create conditions that would ensure free and fair elections," a South African government statement said.

Zimbabwe is in the midst of an economic crisis marked by the world's highest inflation rate of 100,580 per cent.

The country is riven by widespread food shortages and 80 per cent unemployment.