An influential group of former world leaders and rights activists, known as the Elders, who were on a two day trip to Zimbabwe called upon the country’s figures in authority to prioritise economic and social needs of ordinary citizens over party politics, factionalism and self-interest.
The Elders on their visit to Zimbabwe on 6-7 September 2019 met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and also opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
Visiting to Zimbabwe for the second time, the group led by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson and Graca Machel being the deputy was also alarmed to hear of the grave economic hardships endured across the country which stand in stark contrast to the progress made in health and education in the early years of the country’s independence.
The visitors also recognised the difficult economic reforms to bring currency stability and improve anti-corruption measures.
Elders also urged Zimbabweans to reclaim the spirit of optimism and dynamism that greeted the country Independence in 1980.
They said such optimism and dynamism can only be done if the rule of law is upheld, human rights are respected, and the country’s abundant natural resources are distributed with accountability, transparency and equity.
Mary Robinson said, “Last year I visited Zimbabwe on the cusp of landmark elections to find people determinedly optimistic about the future. Today that optimism has gone amid a worsening economic crisis, entrenched political polarisation and a culture of fear, paranoia and state violence. Yet I have been heartened by hearing from courageous women and church leaders from across society who are meeting to nurture dialogue and reimagine their country’s future. They offer an example that all Zimbabweans should follow.”
Graca Machel said, “Zimbabwe was once a beacon across Southern Africa in the struggle against colonial and racist oppression. It remains blessed with natural wealth and entrepreneurial, resilient citizens who deserve to live in dignity and prosperity. I am convinced that Zimbabwe can chart a path to a peaceful and democratic future, but only if a broad, inclusive national dialogue is given the space to flourish and resonate among all citizens.”
Zimbabwe is currently facing economic challenges with inflation going to over 175.% by June 2019.
The country is also witnessing power challenges with fuel shortages and load shedding due to low electricity production.