The pledge by South Africa’s ruling ANC to help Zanu PF win the next elections has invited a backlash in that country with political parties and civic groups describing the move as regrettable.
Gwede Mantashe, the ANC secretary-general, made the pledge while delivering a solidarity message at the just-ended Zanu PF annual conference in Bulawayo.
He said the ANC would share with Zanu PF its expertise regarding election campaigns and on how a hostile media should be treated.
But the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and AfriForum, a civic organisation that has represented South African farmers who lost their land in Zimbabwe’s land grab, yesterday issued separate statements condemning the ANC pledge.
AfriForum said the ANC’s public declaration of support for President Robert Mugabe’s party was a slap in the face for South African citizens who were subjected to human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
“In South Africa we often hear about inhuman land grab programmes and attacks executed against South African citizens under the direction of the Zanu PF government,” said Ernst Roets, the AfriFrorum deputy chief executive officer.
“In spite of numerous appeals made by AfriForum to our own government in this regard, the latter still neglects to take a stand against these attacks by the Mugabe regime.
“To hear our ruling party openly declaring its support for one of the most dangerous political parties in the world, in spite of the fact that our own citizens are being maltreated by Zanu PF, is an insult to every South African.”
Mantashe said the ANC was obliged to support Zanu PF because it was a fellow liberation movement.
“It, therefore, is clear that our ruling party’s loyalty to liberation organisations in general and more specifically Zanu PF, is of more importance to the ANC than loyalty to its own citizens,” Roets said.
“AfriForum will continue bringing pressure to bear on the South African government to protect its citizens in Zimbabwe.
“We are even prepared to embarrass the ANC internationally if local remedies were to fail to ensure such protection.”
IFP said instead of pledging to support Zanu PF, the ANC must have encouraged parties in Zimbabwe’s inclusive government to work towards free and fair elections. South African President and ANC leader Jacob Zuma is the Sadc-appointed mediator in the Zimbabwean political crisis.
His predecessor Thabo Mbeki was often criticised for allegedly being biased towards Zanu PF.
“The ANC may argue that Mr Mantashe represents the ANC and not the government of South Africa, and that he was, therefore, not speaking on behalf of government, forgetting that there is a strong interlock between the ANC as the ruling party and the government of the day,” said Ben Skosana, IFP’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson.
“In other words, because of this undeniable link, the ANC espouses government’s policies, or vice-versa, the government espouses ANC policies — foreign and otherwise.
IFP said the ANC must not forget that Zanu PF has been accused of serious violations of human rights and other atrocities.
“Our plea, therefore, as the IFP, to the secretary-general of the ANC is to instead foster unity of the people of Zimbabwe, and to encourage an all-inclusive process towards free and fair elections — void of any violence and intimidation, which has come to characterise previous elections in that country.
“Otherwise, his current comments and approach will unfortunately only achieve the opposite,” Skosana said.