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.
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