Zimbabwe has refused former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and ex-US President Jimmy Carter entry to Zimbabwe to assess the country's worsening humanitarian situation, the group said on Saturday.
Zimbabwe has barred former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and other prominent figures from visiting the country to assess the humanitarian crisis, the group said on Saturday.
They were denied travel visas to Zimbabwe despite the intervention of former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating the political conflict between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"We had hoped to go to Zimbabwe this morning but we had to cancel because the government has made it clear they will not co-operate," Annan told a press briefing in Johannesburg.
Annan, Carter and Nelson Mandela's wife, Graca Machel are part of a group of prominent figures and former statesmen called The Elders.
"Our purpose in coming here was never to be involved in the political issues that have been so controversial in the establishment of a new government in Zimbabwe, but only to help with the humanitarian issue and we will continue to do that," Carter said.
A statement by The Elders said they would stay in South Africa to gather more information on the situation in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries.
They will also speak to humanitarian agency representatives, civil groups, businesspeople and officials from Zimbabwe.
A September 15 power-sharing agreement facilitated by Mbeki had raised hopes that a new leadership would get on with the task of rescuing Zimbabwe's ruined economy.
But a stalemate over the allocation of key ministries in the new government has stalled a final agreement.
Critics accuse Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, of ruining the country but the 84-year-old leader says the economy has been sabotaged by forces opposed to his nationalist stance.
Inflation is rampant, food and fuel in short supply, and the Zimbabwean dollar is virtually worthless in a country once seen as southern Africa's breadbasket. (Reporting by Muchena Zigomo; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
Date created : 2008-11-22