Robert Mugabe, the president who will be running for a sixth term in March, has been accused of rigging previous elections and using tough security laws to keep his opponents under control.
|"The challenge is to continue pressing the Mugabe|
regime ... to adopt a new constitution"
Lovemore Madhuku, constitutional lawyer
Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional lawyer leading a pressure group pushing for a new constitution, told the Reuters news agency that the election date came as no surprise.
"It was always clear the elections would be held in March," he said.
"The challenge is to continue pressing the Mugabe regime - which, because of the twisted electoral environment, will still be there in the post-election period - to adopt a new constitution."
The parliamentary and presidential elections will take place against the backdrop of Zimbabwe's ongoing economic crisis. The annual rate of inflation is officially running at nearly 8,000 per cent, but many economists believe that the figure is closer to 50,000 per cent.
Unemployment is around 80 per cent and basic foodstuffs, such as cooking oil and sugar, are now a scarce commodity.