The Elders Support Zimbabwe Through a Letter to SADC
The Elders, a group of global leaders unified by Nelson Mandela, have urged the heads of state of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to support Zimbabwe through an upcoming transitional period.

In a letter to the SADC, they point out that Zimbabwe is “on the verge of an important transition.” The advocates behind the letter, including Kofi Annan, Graca Machel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, note that with the support of the SADC, Zimbabwe could experience a shift to democratic leadership and a boost to their economic and social development.

Zimbabwe has been rife with protests recently as a result of displeasure with President Robert Mugabe’s rule, as well as various economic problems that have developed in the country.

There are cash shortages throughout the country, the government is planning to reintroduce bond notes as legal tender and civil servants are lacking several months of pay. Civilian anger about these facts has led to multiple protests that police have broken up through the use of batons and tear gas.

Government authorities are attempting to subdue civilian protests, many of which have been organized through social media, by drafting a law that will punish civilians with up to five years jail time for “abusive” use of social media.

The Elder’s letter comes at an auspicious time considering the current tumult within Zimbabwe. Additionally, the letter prefaces the upcoming SADC group summit in Swaziland.

In the letter, not only do the Elders support Zimbabwe but they also make clear that aid to Zimbabwe will be beneficial for the nation as a whole and should, therefore, be something that SADC thoroughly consider in their impending meeting.

The letter states, “The Elders believe the upcoming summit is an important opportunity to reflect on how best SADC can help Zimbabwe manage the complex challenges ahead.”

Jordan Little

Photo: Flickr

In 2000, leaders of Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique joined together to enhance national economic development objectives in the economically depressed regions of the three countries. Followed by a signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in 2003, the “Growth Triangle,” as it has been commonly referred to, was formalized and finalized in late 2014.

The objective of the Zambia/Malawi/Mozambique Growth Triangle (ZMMGT) is to incorporate the border areas encompassing eastern provinces in Zambia, the Tete province in Mozambique and the central and northern regions of Malawi. Representatives originally hoped to harness the natural resources of the area and, through infrastructure improvement, create jobs with the goal of eliminating poverty.

According to a 2014 United Nations report covering economic development in Africa, economic activities and production as well as social sectors have increased steadily between 2003 and 2011.

The three countries banning together create an interesting investment. Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique are all member states of both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), two key trade regional economic bodies. Therefore, investors in these three countries enjoy preferential market access to a bigger, tripartite regional market of just over 600 million people, ranging from tip of South Africa in the south, to the northern tip of Egypt in the north.

The African Business Review states that “perhaps the most important business reform that the ZMMGT is set to initiate will be the simplification of border relations…which will [remove] any limits placed on conducting cross-border commercial activity…The immediate effect of this will be the streamlining of business transactions across the triangle.”

A railway line that spans the three countries is also due to be completed and will facilitate the transport of goods across Zambia and Malawi, to the port of Nacala in Mozambique.

Investment and infrastructure are key concepts for any country to grow. Three African countries agreeing to enhance the economy is a positive sign of growth in Africa overall.

– Alaina Grote

Sources: African Business Review, Africa Strictly Business, UNCTAD
Photo: Flickr