By Blessings Mashaya
A group of prominent Elders yesterday met President Emmerson Mnangagwa, MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to iron out serious disagreements over a raft of electoral reform issues.
The Elders who arrived in the country on Thursday and will be in Zimbabwe until today include former US President Jimmy Carter, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former Ireland president Mary Robinson.
Speaking after meeting the Elders who use their collective experience and influence to try and achieve peace and justice around the world, Mnangagwa said he had briefed them of the current situation in the country.
“It was an excellent meeting with the Elders, they wanted a brief of the current situation in the country and I was able to tell them that we are going through a process of the general elections.
“This time around most of the political parties have been created as a result of opened up democratic space in Zimbabwe.
“We have 133 political parties in Zimbabwe, out of the 133, 55 are contesting elections.
“Out of 55, 23 are contesting for the office of the president.
“We are happy that up to now our people, political parties included have heeded our call for non-violence.
“Yes there was an incident in Bulawayo but that was intended to assassinate me not democracy, so it was very clear that this is what we are having and we are moving forward.”
Mnangagwa added that government does not interfere with the operations of Zec.
“We have the Zec which is an independent electoral commission of this country.
“Government has no role in controlling or influencing Zec at all.
“They are guided by the Electoral Act of the country as well as the Constitution and those who feel that Zec has not complied with the law or the Constitution our courts are open to deal with such issues
“They (Elders) said that they had opportunity of meeting many political party leaders and organisations and they feel that this time around there is freedom in the country and doing political campaigns.
They have few issues they raised against Zec.”
Chamisa said he managed to raise his concerns with the Elders. The opposition parties are expecting the Elders to resolve the concerns they raised with Zec which include the availability of the voters’ roll and ballot printing.
“Just had a great meeting with the Elders on the election stalemate in Zimbabwe. We want the ballot to be transparent and authentic.
“One-man one-vote is our mantra! We are committed to peace upon free and fair election,” Chamisa tweeted.
The respected Annan is leading the delegation.
Annan told the Citizens Manifesto’s National Citizens Convention in Harare yesterday that while Zimbabwe went through difficulties in previous years because of poor governance, the situation changed in November last year.
“Ten days before the elections, the fact that opposition parties are able to campaign and observers are allowed in the country — all are signs that from Limpopo to Zambezi freedom is in the air.
“I feel the excitement in the city…catch the wave and move forward.” Daily News