The Elders have called on Zimbabweans to unite to end the terrible suffering in their country and urge international donors to support the latest step towards the formation of a new government.
In Harare on Friday, the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai announced that it will join a government of national unity, allowing the Global Political Agreement signed last September to be implemented.
“This is an important step towards ending the political impasse in Zimbabwe,” said former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, “but it is not a guarantee that Zimbabwe’s distress is over. Rebuilding the economy and ending the peoples’ terrible suffering will take much more work on the part of all Zimbabweans, regional leaders and the international community.”
Chairman of the Elders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said, “We will be watching closely to ensure that the agreement between the political parties is implemented fairly. But the people of Zimbabwe can no longer be held hostage by politics. Their urgent needs must be met.”
President Carter said: “This political agreement is far from perfect – but political life involves taking risks. The international community should now do what it can to give this agreement the best chance of success. Talking it down will not improve the situation for Zimbabweans – it will only prolong their agony.”
Three members of the Elders, Mr Annan, former US President Jimmy Carter and Mrs Graça Machel travelled to southern Africa in November to assess the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. Informed that they would not be welcome in Harare, they arranged to meet heads of UN agencies, donors, regional political leaders and Zimbabwean civil society representatives over three days in Johannesburg. They were shocked by what they learned in November, and say that since their visit the crisis has escalated.
“Conditions since we visited are even worse”, said Graça Machel. “We should now respect the decisions made by Zimbabweans about their future and do all we can to ease the suffering of the people. It is essential that hospitals and schools reopen and water supplies are made safe. But we must also monitor what is happening very closely at the political level and encourage all parties to work in good faith to implement the terms of the Global Political Agreement.”