Sadc heads fume over ‘Group of Elders’

by Shingirai Huni | Sunday, Sep 4, 2016 | 1496 views

SADC leaders are furious with the “Group of Elders” for trying to nudge them into discussing Zimbabwe’s internal matters, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has said.

In an interview with our Harare Bureau, Minister Mumbengegwi — who attended last week’s Sadc Summit in Swaziland with President Mugabe, said regional leaders had been assured that the situation in Zimbabwe was under control in the aftermath of violent opposition demonstrations in Harare.

He said though Zimbabwe was not on the agenda, one Head of State said he received a letter from the “Group of Elders” imploring Sadc to facilitate “a transition in Zimbabwe”.

Other leaders promptly attacked “Group of Elders” members Mr Koffi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ms Graca Machel for trying to “treat them as puppets”.

Minister Mumbengegwi said, “There was no discussion on Zimbabwe, but one country did mention that it had received this letter from three people who said they were part of an NGO calling itself ‘The Elders’. The Heads of State were actually quite angry about that letter. They said, ‘These three think that we are puppets. Summit should reject this attempt by the three individuals to set an agenda for us.’

“The Head of State who had brought it said, ‘I agree that we should reject it totally. I just wanted to find out if others had received the letter that I received.’ It turned out that the majority of Heads of State, including Zimbabwe, had not received the letter which was unanimously thrown out in the end. In Sadc, we have our own way of doing things if we think something needs to be done. In this particular case, no one thinks there is anything that needs to be done.”

Minister Mumbengegwi said there was evidence “rejected sellout politicians” behind the violence in Harare and the “Group of Elders” had colluded.

“Without that incident, it would not have been possible for them to write such a letter. They were sort of saying, ‘Have you done it?’ And (the opposition) said, ‘Yes, yes, we have burnt a few cars and looted a few shops.’ (The group) then said, ‘We are now going to write the letter to Sadc.’”

 

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