JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has once again promised to support Zanu PF in Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections, saying the party is knowledgeable about the country’s needs.
Ahead of a crucial referendum on the constitution this Saturday, the ANC yesterday reiterated its support for President Robert Mugabe’s party and renewed an undertaking to help the party win the country’s general elections later this year.
“Zanu PF has been governing Zimbabwe since 1980 and we feel they have gained the necessary experience and wealth of knowledge over that time to benefit the people of that country and govern again,” ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said.
“The people of Zimbabwe will decide who governs them, but if called on to assist, we won’t hesitate in coming to their assistance to ensure they are successful.
“This is the same way in which we would consider any requests from any other liberation movement we have ties with.”
In late 2011, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told a Zanu-PF national conference in Bulawayo that his party would support Mugabe’s party in its mission to retain power at the next national election.
The comments were criticised because South Africa operated as the chief political negotiator in the power-sharing agreement brokered by former President Thabo Mbeki between Zanu PF and its rival MDC formations following disputed elections in 2008.
The agreement saw MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai became Prime Minister in a government of national unity — something Mugabe and his party described as “unnatural” and “unworkable”.
The exact nature of the support the ANC would provide was not made clear, but Khoza confirmed it would not be a financial contribution.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean we agree on everything the Zanu PF does or says,” he added. “But our shared history means that we have a responsibility to assist each other whenever and wherever possible.”
Khoza also said the ANC’s support would by no means translate into the South African government providing support to Mugabe or his party. Our interaction has never been defined within State relations — it’s purely a party-to-party thing.”
The ANC’s comments came days before Zimbabweans were due to head to the polls in a referendum on a new constitution which was drafted under the unity government.
South Africa’s neighbour is due to elect a new government sometime later this year, with Tsvangirai and other opposition politicians citing fears of election violence.
Zimbabwe’s police have already been accused of intimidating voters, an accusation that has since been denied.