The Elders led by council chair Mary Robinson and her deputy Grace Machel have called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Movement for Democratic Change leader Nelson Chamisa as well as all political leaders to find a way out of the current impasse and act constructively in the interests of the nation.
They urged all Zimbabweans to reclaim the spirit of optimism and dynamism that greeted Independence in 1980.
Founding leader Robert Mugabe, who served the first seven years as Prime Minister and the next 30 years as President, died in Singapore yesterday.
Robinson and Machel were in Harare for two days and met Mnangagwa, Chamisa and leaders of civic groups and churches.
“Inflammatory language that perpetuates and exacerbates cycles of confrontation must be disavowed. All political and security forces must commit to abide by the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the rule of law, freedom of speech and the protection of human rights,” the Elders said in a statement after their visit.
“Last year I visited Zimbabwe on the cusp of landmark elections to find people determinedly optimistic about the future,” Robinson said.
“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.”
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.”
Mnangagwa and Chamisa have so far been unable to talk because Chamisa does not recognise Mnangagwa’s victory is last year’s elections.
Mnangagwa and his ZANU-PF insists the two can only talk once Chamisa has recognised Mnangagwa as the President.