Mary Robison Says Meaningful Dialogue Is The Only Solution To Zimbabwe’s Crisis
5 November 2020

Paul Nyathi

Mary Robison at the Zimbabwean National Citizens Convention in 2018.

Current chairperson of the respected Elders group, Mary Robinson has called on Zimbabweans to engage in meaningful dialogue to solve the country’s crisis.

She said this in a letter to the Zimbabwean National Citizens Convention taking place in Harare.

Mary Therese Winifred Robinson is an Irish Independent politician who served as the seventh President of Ireland from December 1990 to September 1997, becoming the first woman to hold this office. 

The Elders is an international non-governmental organisation of public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates, who were brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007.

They describe themselves as “independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights”. The goal Mandela set for The Elders was to use their “almost 1,000 years of collective experience” to work on solutions for seemingly insurmountable problems such as climate change, HIV/AIDS, and poverty, as well as to “use their political independence to help resolve some of the world’s most intractable conflicts”.

Below is the letter to the Zimbabwean National Citizens Convention of 2020.

Dear friends,

It is with great pleasure that I send you my greetings and congratulations on the occasion of the third National Citizens Convention in Zimbabwe.

I still treasure the memory of speaking to many of you at the first Convention in Harare Gardens on July 20th 2018, alongside my dearly-missed friend and colleague Kofi Annan.

Kofi stood steadfast in his support of the Zimbabwean people, their rights and freedoms to the very end of his life, and the words he said on that day still ring true now:

“Rebuilding Zimbabwe will be the work of the nation, a nation made up not just of politicians, but also of professionals, of traders, students, workers, a nation of men and women like you. Politics is too important to be left to the politicians.”

The events of 2020 have shown how right he was, not just in Zimbabwe but across the world. COVID-19 has turned all our worlds upside down, and it is only through our collective endeavours that we can fight the pandemic and restore our nations to stability and prosperity.

The work of the National Citizens Convention is more essential than ever. Rebuilding Zimbabwe requires dialogue, solidarity, inclusivity, transparency and accountability.

This can only be done if the rule of law is upheld, human rights are respected, and no impunity is afforded to those behind abductions, torture, perversion of the course of justice, and violence.

I know from our previous conversations that these principles inform all of your work, and I welcome your focus on social cohesion, participatory democracy, respect for the Constitution of Zimbabwe and building a sustainable and inclusive economy.

In your discussions today, I urge you to go ever further down the path of active citizenry and build connections with wider networks across Zimbabwe for a comprehensive, inclusive national dialogue reflecting the diversity and richness of your beautiful country.

As you know, this can only be done if the rule of law is upheld, human rights are respected, and there is no impunity afforded to those behind abductions, torture and violence.

The path ahead is challenging but I salute your resilience and determination, and on behalf of The Elders I extend my warmest wishes and enduring support.

Thank you,

Mary Robinson

Chair of The Elders