|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
By Lewis Machipisa
BBC Harare correspondent
A day after European Union observers pulled out of Zimbabwe, the South African election observer mission has expressed concern over violence in the capital, Harare.
The mission is also alarmed by a recent decision to prevent some South African media organisations from covering the upcoming elections.
The head of the South African election observer delegation, Sam Motsuenyane, says he plans to raise the press ban with the Zimbabwean Government.
We are optimistic that the problem of accreditation will be resolved amicably and speedily
South African observer mission
''Our experience in South Africa tells us that it is vital for the success of building democracy, to inform the public and the world at large without hindrance,'' Mr Motsuenyane said.
The Zimbabwean Government has refused accreditation to several foreign news organizations whose coverage has been unfavourable, including many from South Africa.
The government accuses the banned journalists of fabrication, exaggeration and bias.
"We will be taking up matters with the authorities on an on-going basis," Mr Motsuenyane said. "Critical at this stage is the accreditation of South Africa media in particular. We believe that the media should be given access to the electoral process in a free way.
''We are optimistic that the problem of accreditation will be resolved amicably and speedily with the Zimbabwean authorities."
Mr Motsuenyane described as "a matter of great concern" allegations that police stood idly by while opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) offices came under attack.
"We also received reports about the existence of 'No-Go Areas' for some parties and we are also taking up the matter," he said. "We have already deployed our observers to some of these areas."
He said the proposed 50-strong team would increase its presence to ensure that the election took place in an environment free of intimidation and violence.
Mr Motsuenyane described the mission in Zimbabwe as a daunting task that requires as many monitors as possible.
The withdrawal of EU observers was unfortunate and regrettable, he said but added that his group would not be deterred by the pull-out.
''Zimbabwe will need a stable political and economic environment after the elections irrespective of who wins,'' Mr Motsuenyane said.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he believes it will be almost impossible to hold credible elections, in light of recent violence.
The MDC's Harare offices were attacked by a group of ruling party supporters who had been demonstrating against the British Government.
The protesters had accused Britain of meddling in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe and warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair to ''stay off''