The Elders‚ led by former United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan‚ have arrived in Harare‚ Zimbabwe‚ to meet political parties ahead of the July 30 general elections.
Annan is joined by Mary Robinson‚ former president of Ireland‚ and Lakhdar Brahimi‚ an Algerian career diplomat‚ for their three-day mission in Zimbabwe to assess the country’s preparedness for the all-important polls.
According to a picture tweeted on The Elders’ official account‚ the diplomats met some presidential candidates in Harare on Thursday‚ including Joice Mujuru‚ leader of the Zimbabwe People First‚ Nkosana Moyo of the Alliance for the People’s Agenda‚ and the Coalition of Democrats (CODE)’s Elton Mangoma.
“In Harare‚ The Elders meet presidential candidates ahead of July 30 #Zimbabwe polls. @KofiAnnan urges free‚ fair & competent elections with all stakeholders taking their responsibilities‚” @TheElders tweeted.
The Elders’ visit at a time when most of the disgruntlement against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the ruling Zanu-PF is coming from the MDC Alliance.
This week‚ the commission’s chairperson‚ Justice Priscilla Chigumba‚ said in a radio interview that the electoral body’s website was hacked and crucial information cloned.
“That was a serious cyber security breach. They actually cloned our site and we are in the process of doing something about it and we should have that site taken down in the course of the week‚” she said.
The alleged hacking was brought to light a week after Zanu-PF sent text messages to registered voters on their mobile phones asking for votes.
Leading mobile phone operator Econet distanced itself from the bulk messages‚ prompting the opposition to suggest that the electoral body was working in cohorts with the ruling party.
As such‚ the MDC Alliance is preparing to picket outside the electoral body’s offices until the eve of the election if the party’s queries are not addressed.
“People will be staying at the offices. We will start in Harare‚ but we will have teams in all the provinces so that nothing will happen until we get a satisfactory response‚” the MDC Alliance said.