All health, sanitation and water supply services have collapsed in Zimbabwe. A nationwide cholera epidemic is spreading, almost half of the population is in need of food aid, water is in short supply, and the government remains deadlocked over a power sharing agreement. This morning, about 40 soldiers began looting shops in downtown Harare and marching through the streets, recruiting sympathizers, chanting “enough is enough” after growing impatient while waiting in long bank lines for their salaries. The riot was the third to take place this week. But today, these looters were President Mugabe’s own soldiers – the men who normally put down riots, not incite them. Never before have Mugabe’s own security forces acted out against the state, and the significance should not be ignored. They are the core of his support, and if he loses them, he may lose everything.
The riots come just a few days after Elders Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, Jimmy Carter, former US President, and Graca Maçhel, human rights activist, attempted to visit the country to assess the humanitarian situation. Mugabe denied them entry visas, and so the Elders met with refugees outside the country and chastised the international community – particularly southern African leaders – for not doing more to help end the crisis. Jane Wales, World Affairs Council CEO & President, served as the Acting CEO for the Elders in their first year, from July 2007 until July 2008.
In April, Jane Wales spoke in conversation with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chairman of the Elders, at the Global Philanthropy Forum 2008 conference in Redwood City. Also present were Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE, and Gareth Evans, President of Crisis Group.
Beginning at about 1min and 20 seconds in, they speak about the situation in Zimbabwe and options for the country going forward.