Opposition pins hopes on Elders

HARARE - The opposition political parties that have been feuding with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) are pinning their hopes on the visiting Elders group to help them make headway on a number of demands they want met before elections are held at the end of the month.

Zimbabwe holds watershed national harmonised elections on July 30 but the election run-up has been marred by serious feuding between Zec and the opposition over a raft of issues which include  the availability of the voters’ roll and ballot printing.

The Elders are a group of prominent people who use their collective experience and influence to try and achieve peace and justice around the world.

They are in the country on a three-day fact-finding mission which ends on Saturday.

While in the country, they will meet with the leaders of political parties, Zec and civil society, ahead of the July 30 poll which has attracted the attention of the international community.

The respected former secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan — who chairs the group — is leading the delegation.

“We hope the elders will be able to visit rural areas so that they will see how people are being intimidated by Zanu PF.

We hope they are going to solve the disputes we are having with Zec ahead of the elections,” National People’s Party (NPP) spokesperson Jefryson Chitando told the Daily News yesterday.

“We are dealing with a junta. During (former president Robert) Mugabe’s time, they used physical violence but the current government uses psychological violence … the elections will not be free and fair,’ he added.

The Welshman Ncube-led MDC said they were pinning their hopes on The Elders to help them find common ground with the national elections management body Zec, which has come under serious criticism in the run-up to the July 30 polls.

“The Elders are welcome to Zimbabwe. Our problem in Zimbabwe is lack of political will to unite Zimbabweans. It is our hope and prayer that The Elders will help break the impasse that is threatening the credibility of the much-awaited 2018 Zimbabwe elections.

“There is a known political crisis in Zimbabwe that needs regional leaders and friends of Zimbabwe to intervene. We are failing to agree with the (president Emmerson) Mnangagwa government and the electoral body on simple issues that require simple ears and a normal person to understand,” said the party’s spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi.

The July 30 polls will see President Emmerson Mnangagwa facing a presidential field consisting of 22 rivals who include four women — a record in the history of the country.

The Elders’ visit is seen as breaking with the past as former leader Robert Mugabe’s government refused to allow intermediaries and international groups from visiting the country at the height of the political crisis.

In November 2008, Mugabe — who was hostile to The Elders and international observers — banned former United States president Jimmy Carter, Annan and the revered late Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel from visiting Zimbabwe, to assess the impact of a humanitarian crisis which was ravaging the country then.

The Elders’ trio had sought to convince the international community to send relief aid to millions of Zimbabweans who were facing mass starvation.

Their intended visit also coincided with a deadly cholera outbreak which killed more than 4 000 people countrywide.

Mugabe resigned from power on November 21 last year after Parliament had put in motion plans to impeach him, ending his 37 years of iron-fisted rule in Zimbabwe.

Apart from having Annan, The Elders fact-finding team includes former president of Ireland, also a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, as well as Lakhdar Brahimi, the former foreign minister of Algeria.

The Elders’ group was founded by Mandela, in 2007.

Its current members include Martti Ahtisaari, Annan, another former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Brahimi, Gro Harlem Brundtland (deputy chair), Hina Jilani, Ricardo Lagos, Mandela’s widow Graça Machel, Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo. Ela Bhatt, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu are Elders Emeritus.


Comments (5)

The only way forward is for SADCC or AU and United nations to conduct the whole election process. You can not expect ZEC which is fully controlled by ZANU PF to conduct a free and fair election, its not possible. They are having the real ballot paper printed somewhere else and public and opposition will never get to know this and that's the ballot that will be used not the one that opposition wants to observe the printing of. ZEC will eventually allow Chamisa to observe printing but still that's a fake process. Chigumba will now say , look you have seen the ballot being printed so let's get on with the election. Go to KG6 and to Mnangagwa's house and see the ballot paper being printed by unknown experts there. I do not think the people that do not care taking nearly 2 months in 2008 to announce an election result will now be prepared to lose, oh hell no!!

Pierson Mazindu - 19 July 2018

A group led by Annan, who was in charge of UN humanitarian issues during the massacre in Rwanda, when close to 1 mill people were killed? What did UN and Annan do? NOTHING AT ALL, JUST WATCHING!!!

Svein - 19 July 2018

@Svein: Your problem is the same as the opposition itself, you pin your hope on elders ndivo vano voter here? Leave those observers to come in and observe what do you want them to do? You should know the role and the limit of all these people, pin your hope on your messages and convince me that you are the best. This MDCA is made up of splinter groups who couldn't work with MT, what has changed today? This is a coalition is a marriage of convenience to hoodwink votes

Mob - 20 July 2018

If the ballot paper cant be trusted why dont we just also use a biometric voting system and let UN ,AU and SADC run the election for us this once and see who wins...

Musadaro - 20 July 2018

Given the success achieved by ZEC and ZANU pf in 2013 using spiked paper....Should we use a pencil and pen combo ie you first mark using a pencil and anchor or repeat using ink. The resultant mark is not subject to the standard chromatography rigging techniques. If anyone has a better suggestion. let us here it. And do not your relatives in the rural areas, they need to vote with you and not against you. Make the phone calls today, yes everybody. It is a necessary investment especially for those diasporans disenfranchised by the ZANU pf regime and ZEC

Diaspora Proxy Vote Strategy Proxy - 20 July 2018

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