BY BLESSED MHLANGA
OUTSPOKEN South African opposition leader, Julius Malema has demanded the closure of the Zimbabwean embassy and cutting of ties between Pretoria and Harare until President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has upheld human rights.
Malema endorsed the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter social media campaign now trending on Twitter after being adopted by international celebrities and politicians to put pressure on South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to rein in his northern neighbour.
“We call for the removal of the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa until they restore human rights in that country,” Malema said.
“Failure to do so we will prevent any official from Zimbabwean government from participating in any gathering in South Africa until they respect ordinary Zimbabweans.”
Relations between Malema and Zanu PF have soured since the ouster of the late President Robert Mugabe through a military coup in November 2017.
In a strongly-worded statement published on Monday, Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said South Africa should not continue pursuing quiet diplomacy with Harare.
“We call on the African Union and all governments in the Sadc to make an intervention in the crimes against humanity being committed by the Mnangagwa regime against the people of Zimbabwe … Quiet diplomacy by Sadc towards human right violations in Zimbabwe has never worked, and it will not start working now,” the EFF said.
“There must be an end to the arrest without trial, victimisation of activists and all progressive forces must condemn the Zanu PF government for the brutality it is practising on the people of Zimbabwe.
“We cannot keep quiet while a military regime wages war on the people of Zimbabwe.”
The call came after dozens of Zimbabwean political activists and a journalist were arrested in the run-up to last week’s anti-corruption protests.
The Zanu PF administration deployed uniformed forces to shut down businesses and stop citizens from accessing cities and towns’ central business districts citing COVID-19 lockdown measures. A manhunt was launched for organisers of the protests with some forced into hiding.
Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana dismissed the EFF as a “rag tag attention-seeking outfit”.
“We have diplomatic relations with the Republic of South Africa. It is that hosting country which has a responsibility to protect our embassy and staff from any forms of attacks or disruptions including from either terrorists or ragtag attention-seeking outfits,” he said.