The Sunday Mail
Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf yesterday paid a courtesy call on President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa Offices in her capacity as co-head of the International Republican Institute-National Democratic Institute election observation mission.
She was accompanied by US Congresswoman Karen Bass, former US ambassador to Zimbabwe Johnnie Carson and other mission members.
Sources close to the meeting said the team, particularly Ambassador Carson (representing NDI), had expressed satisfaction that the political space in Zimbabwe had been enhanced since President Mnangagwa’s inauguration late last year.
Ambassador Carson, The Sunday Mail was informed, said observer missions had been allowed unimpeded access and that the election campaign period had been peaceful.
The sources added that the IRA, which has been in Zimbabwe on a pre-election assessment since June, was full of praise for Government for showing that “there was nothing to hide”.
Responding to questions from journalists after the meeting, ex-President Johnson-Sirleaf said: “We were very pleased with the opportunity to meet the President together with my colleagues … Just a message to all Zimbabweans is that, as they go out and vote, vote your choice, make your country proud and altogether work for the development of Zimbabwe.
“This is a great opportunity for all Zimbabweans to go out there, to exercise their right of free choice, to ensure that they stay peaceful, that the environment allows for a successful election and for a transition that will allow all Zimbabweans and the international community very proud.”
Congresswoman Bass said tomorrow’s elections were a major determinant of how relations between Harare and Washington would develop.
“We had a resolution that has called for free and fair and transparent elections and hoping that after that process we could began a new relationship with the country,” she said.
“This was a message that was supposed to be very positive from the United States, saying that we hope for free, fair and transparent elections and that maybe after this process we can take a look at what our relationship with Zimbabwe is.”
On his part, Ambassador Carson said: “I am very pleased to be back in Zimbabwe. I think this is a very beautiful and wonderful country and it is a pleasure to be back to see the people of this country participate in a democratic election.
“The economy, as everybody knows, had fallen on tough times and I hope these elections will bring back the kind of changes that will improve the economy.”