Eminent global personalities visiting Zimbabwe have expressed shock at the attacks, especially from opposition forces and activists, aimed at Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba.
Former Irish President Mary Robinson and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said they had been appalled at how Chigumba had been exposed to the attacks without shielding from the media and authorities.
"We were quite shocked when we met with chair of the Electoral Commission she was accompanied by two women commissioners.
"They have been vilified on social media and even threatened. It's unacceptable," Robinson said.
Chigumba has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a minister with the opposition demanding that she resigns on the basis that she is now conflicted. Robinson added: "Yes you can criticise them for being a little too legalistic.
"When Kofi (Annan) asked who defends them, there was silence. It's not allowed to vilify them on social media or elsewhere."
Annan weighed in, imploring the media to work as a buffer to defend the country's institutions and in particular women.
"It's not about the election because they are not an end. You must defend them.
"Even going forward, help defend women's rights. Often when there is violence, women tend to stay away," the respected Ghanaian said.
Robinson added that she had also been shocked by personal attacks on other candidates in the election.
"We were also shocked by attacks on fellow candidates. Political leaders must take the lead in helping stop this," the UN human rights commissioner said.