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We support efforts to build a stable, prosperous and secure future for the people of Zimbabwe.

Our Work on Zimbabwe


A country at a crossroads

Zimbabwe has been a key focus of concern for The Elders since the group was formed in 2007. Once one of Africa’s strongest economies, Zimbabwe has suffered sustained political and economic crises over the last three decades and its leaders are failing in their responsibilities to the country’s people.

The Elders visited Zimbabwe in July 2018 just ahead of the first elections since Robert Mugabe was deposed. Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi and Mary Robinson met with political leaders including President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC-Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa to urge a free, fair and transparent contest that respected the rule of law and democratic values. They also met the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the diplomatic community and civil society representatives.

The Elders condemned the killing of unarmed protesters in the streets of Harare on 1 August in the wake of the election, and urged Zimbabwe’s leaders to pursue a credible, independent inquiry into the violence which holds perpetrators to account.

The Elders will continue to support civil society groups across the political and social spectrum in Zimbabwe and share their aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous future.


The Elders' position

The Elders seek to support the leaders and people of Zimbabwe to work towards a peaceful, prosperous and stable future that fulfils the democratic aspirations of its citizens.

They believe this requires:

  • Democratic conditions, including free, fair and credible elections
  • Respect for fundamental human rights, including an open media and freedoms of association, assembly and speech
  • An accountable government that responds to the needs of all people in Zimbabwe and provides essential services
  • An end to corruptionpatronage and the manipulation of state resources
  • Economic opportunities, allowing people in Zimbabwe to fulfil their potential
  • Assistance from the international community to address immediate humanitarian needs and support economic recovery and development

The Elders' work

The Elders played a catalytic role in increasing humanitarian assistance to support the restoration of basic services in Zimbabwe in 2008 and 2009.

In November 2008, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Graça Machel attempted to visit Harare to draw attention to Zimbabwe’s deteriorating humanitarian crisis. Prevented at the last minute from entering the country, the Elders stayed in Johannesburg where they met representatives of Zimbabwean civil society, business and politics, as well as refugees, donors and UN agencies.

The attention drawn to the situation encouraged political leaders to resolve their differences – to conclude negotiations on the formation of an inclusive government and focus on addressing the basic needs of the population. The visit also persuaded leaders in southern Africa to take a more assertive approach to tackling the political and humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. 

Ahead of the 36th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit in August 2016, Kofi Annan, Archbishop Tutu and Graҫa Machel wrote to its leaders calling on them to "support a successful and inclusive transition in Zimbabwe".

Following the resignation of President Robert Mugabe in November 2017, The Elders urged all stakeholders in Zimbabwe and the region to work together for a genuine democratic transition.

In 2018, The Elders returned to Zimbabwe ahead of the 30 July elections to meet political leaders, electoral officials and civil society groups. Following post-election violence and court rulings, they urged political leaders to honour Kofi Annan’s legacy and the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe by acting responsibly to avert further violence.

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