Pro-Mugabe columnist attacks Kofi Annan
24 August 2016, 18:14
Harare - Kofi Annan and his co-Elders are "Western puppets" and "busybodies", a pro-Robert Mugabe columnist charged Wednesday after the internationally-respected statesmen asked SADC to support a smooth transition in crisis-hit Zimbabwe.
Writing to SADC members ahead of a summit in Swaziland, The Elders - who include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu - said that if a transition was handled well, "[it] could lead to a peaceful and democratic change of leadership and a renewed focus on social and economic development", according to a letter published on the group's website this week.
But the Herald's well-known political editor Tichaona Zindoga said The Elders were "deluded" and "puerile".
Three years after Mugabe was re-elected to power, Zimbabwe is in the grips of mounting economic problems and social unrest. The authorities are poised to introduce new banknotes that locals fear will plunge the southern African country back into the inflation and shortages of the pre-2008 era.
Now 92, Mugabe appears at times frail but still insists he will stand for re-election in 2018. His Zanu-PF party is riven with internal fighting as officials jostle to be next-in-line.
The letter from The Elders reads: “We firmly believe that a successful transition is vital not only for Zimbabwe but also for the region."
The Herald's political editor took this as a reference to plans that have been mooted by some in the opposition for a National Transitional Authority to take over the running of the country until elections. Zindoga wrote: "Why would Annan and Co seek to subvert a constitutional order and suggest that Zimbabwe adopts an illegal inclusive transitional arrangement?"
"Age is apparently coming alone to this gang," he added calling The Elders a "puppet team".
The Elders' letter was co-signed by former UN secretary general Annan, Tutu and Graca Machel, who co-founded The Elders with her late husband Nelson Mandela.
Zimbabwe's main opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru are sceptical of the plan for a transitional authority, according to a report in Wednesday's privately-owned Newsday.