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Sadc urged to intervene in Zimbabwe as protests escalate

By Bridget Mananavire

Sadc must intervene in the escalating Zimbabwean crisis and facilitate a smooth transition of power in the country, a group of international elders — Graca Machel, Kofi Annan and Desmond Tutu — have urged.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

The elders said “Zimbabwe is on the verge of an important transition which, if handled well, could lead to a peaceful and democratic change of leadership and a renewed focus on social and economic development”.

This comes amid rising protests against President Robert Mugabe’s misrule, among other issues, with police teargassing and brutally attacking civilians in a bid to quash the demonstrations.

Sadc is set to meet for the 36th regional summit in Swaziland from August 30 to 31, to discuss issues affecting southern Africa.

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In a letter to Sadc, the elders said “we firmly believe that a successful transition is vital not only for Zimbabwe, but also for the region”.

“We are also convinced that, if the transition process is to succeed, it must be inclusive, transparent and framed in the national interest,” they said in the letter.

Machel, Tutu and Annan form part of The Elders council together with former United States president Jimmy Carter, Martti Ahtisaari, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi Gro Brundtland, Fernando H Cardoso, Hina Jilani, Ricardo Lagos, Mary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo.

In a statement, the trio said: “The elders call on the heads of State of…Sadc to consider how they can support a successful and inclusive transition in Zimbabwe that will return stability and growth to the country.”

“The elders believe the upcoming summit is an important opportunity to reflect on how best Sadc can help Zimbabwe manage the complex challenges ahead.”

This comes as civil society organisations have raised a red flag on human rights violations at the hands of Zimbabwe authorities, particularly the police.

In November 2008, the elders attempted to visit Zimbabwe to draw attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country but were denied entry.

At the time, Machel said: “Either the leadership doesn’t have a clear picture of how deep the suffering is of their own people, or they don’t care.” Daily News