BY MOSES MATENGA
THE South African ruling party, African National Congress (ANC) has said Zimbabwe is in a crisis and millions of its citizens have lost their dignity hence the need for an immediate solution.
Lindiwe Zulu (pictured), the South African ruling party’s international relations committee chairperson, said there was need to be “honest and frank” in dealing with the multifaceted crisis in Zimbabwe.
“In the ANC’s view, yes, there is a political crisis in Zimbabwe, and we have to be frank and honest about it,” Zulu said.
“If we are to help the situation, then we have to be frank and honest about it because we are asking the question, where is the dignity in all the Zimbabweans who are here?” Zulu said, adding that educated locals were being forced into menial jobs in the neighbouring country, losing their dignity in the process.
“Let us be mindful that the situation in Zimbabwe is not that easy,” Zulu said.
“It is complicated in a way, you have a governing party which is Zanu PF and an opposition party which is the MDC, which also has different MDCs. You also have civic society and other people in Zimbabwe who would want to see the situation improve in Zimbabwe. We will wait for them (special envoys) to come back and report.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday dispatched three special envoys Baleka Mbete, Sydney Mufamadi and Advocate Ngoako Abel Ramatlhodi to probe reports of gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
The three met President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House, but aborted proposed meetings with main opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and civic society organisations.
After the State House meeting, Mufamadi said the envoys were reading the situation in Zimbabwe and would report to Ramaphosa, who would give feedback to the public.
Added Zulu: “As for the ANC committee on international relations, we also have had our own meetings looking into the situation in Zimbabwe and what else we can do from an ANC point of view, engaging with Zanu PF as a sister political party.”
Government officials in Zimbabwe have insisted there is no crisis in the country, with presidential spokesperson George Charamba last week claiming the circulating images and videos of tortured people and those of army officers beating up civilians, were doctored.
Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana also claimed there was no crisis in Zimbabwe despite evidence of arbitrary arrests, harassment of activists and journalists by the police, among other issues.
He said the military and police were on the ground only to enforce COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
But Zulu, the former international relations adviser to ex-President Jacob Zuma, insisted: “There are some of the things we have to be very frank about and discuss without necessarily breaking relations because we are neighbours. We have to be frank about each other and make sure Zimbabwe is what Zimbabweans and the African continent want it to be.
“It is almost like a continuation of what South Africa has always done when there seems to be challenges in Zimbabwe. It is the responsibility of the neighbour and that is President Ramaphosa and the people of South Africa to make sure that we always assist Zimbabwe, but also it is his responsibility as chairman of the African Union and the continent and the people of Africa are looking up to him to say what is it he will do.”
Zanu PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said he would issue a statement responding to Zulu’s remarks.
South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party added its voice on the Zimbabwean crisis, saying Ramaphosa must fly to Harare and meet all parties involved to end the crisis.
“We call on President Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the African Union chairperson, to show leadership and go to Zimbabwe — meet with all the relevant stakeholders and get a balanced picture of the political crisis and human rights violations unfolding there,” the DA said in a statement.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said Ramaphosa must consult with different stakeholders for him to have an appreciation of the crisis in Zimbabwe.
“One hopes that Cyril has a long-term plan to help resolve the Zimbabwean crisis beyond photo opportunities of his envoys with Mnangagwa. The South African government must realise that Mnangagwa cannot extricate himself from the mud that he finds himself in and there is a need for an inclusive approach that is engaging Zanu PF, MDC Alliance, civil society, labour, students, religious groups and business,” Mukundu said.
“Zanu PF will shout ‘we are fine’ while all can see that Zimbabwe is drowning and it is my hope that Cyril realises that he needs to listen to and consult multiple voices and not be led down the garden path by Mnangagwa.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director Blessing Vava said: “It is our conviction that the national dialogue process must involve all stakeholders and a national visioning process that has civil society, government, political parties, business, religious groups and labour unions, among other critical stakeholders.
“The dialogue process should produce a clearly-timed roadmap to the demilitarisation of civilian political processes and the restoration of normalcy by focusing on key political, economic and social reforms. There is a need for full consultation of all stakeholders rather than cosmetic processes.”
South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said Ramaphosa’s administration should stop treating the Mnangagwa regime with “friendliness” in the wake of gross human rights violations.
“Until the South African government stands firmly for the democratisation of that country, for the opening of the political space, the freedom of the media and ordinary people to lead a normal life and to organise themselves, we will go nowhere,” Vavi said.
“The SA government has been treating the regime with friendliness, but it is time for the President to pick up the phone and say to Mnangagwa — ‘we will not allow your ministers to come here and get treatment when you have destroyed your health system there, and when Zimbabweans are trapped in a situation where the hospitals have no doctors or nurses’.”
Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front leader Biggie Ganda Butale said it was time for the region to take action on Zimbabwe.
“As the incoming chairman of the Sadc Troika Organ on Politics and Security, we would have expected President Mokgweetsi Masisi to be leading regional government voices condemning and cautioning President Emmerson Mnangagwa against the continued abuse of civilians by the security forces. As a neighbour who has always been the host of political and economic refugees from troubled Zimbabwe and Sadc, Botswana especially, should be in the forefront of ensuring stability prevails in Zimbabwe,” Butale said.
“When Mnangagwa came to power, in a ‘democratic’ coup, there was hope that the culture of State-sponsored violence would end, and that democracy and economic revival would be on the new leader’s agenda. It was never to be as witnessed by what has been happening recently.”
MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo said Zimbabwe needed a genuine dialogue that would extricate the country from the current mess it finds itself in.
“The solution to any crisis is dialogue between or among warring parties. It’s not only South Africa as an individual country, but the whole Sadc region and the African Union that must come in to help the people of Zimbabwe to resolve this impasse,” he said.
“Minister Lindiwe Zulu has experience and knowledge of how the illegitimate regime of Zanu PF operates. She is honest and she has demonstrated that she is a true African.”
BY MOSES MATENGA