A delegation of The Elders led by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan says Zimbabwe’s crisis is worse than it had imagined.
Annan, former US President Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, who are part of a group of prominent figures and former statesmen called The Elders, planned to visit Zimbabwe to assess the humanitarian situation but were refused entry.
They had intended to stay in Zimbabwe for only 24 hours.
The Elders however continued their assessment of Zimbabwe’s escalating humanitarian crisis in Johannesburg, by meeting regional governments, political leaders, aid agencies, business and civil society representatives from Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe government says it blocked The Elders’ visit because it was ill timed coming when the country was busy with negotiations to form a government of national unity.
The Harare administration also said the visit by Annan’s group was unnecessary because it had, with the help of UN agencies, already carried out a comprehensive assessment of the Zimbabwe’s humanitarian needs.
Secretary for Information and Publicity George Charamba says the “Elders” mission had nothing to do with the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.
“The so-called ‘Elders’ are a creature of pro-Labour British corporate
interests. There is nothing elderly about them. But what is more, it is a
very condescenting title. If they are ‘Elders’ what do Zimbabweans become,
infants?” he said.
Charamba said the “Elders” should not pretend to have Zimbabweans at
heart when, in fact, they were fronting a regime change agenda being pushed by Britain and the US.
But The Elders said Zimbabwe was in a far worse situation than the Harare authorities cared to admit.
“The leadership either has no clear picture of what is happening on the ground, or they just do not care about their people, otherwise they would do everything possible to stop the suffering and protect the people,” they said in South Africa.
The Elders called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to deal with the situation in Zimbabwe with a sense of urgency.