SA president Ramaphosa arrives in Zimbabwe amid Mugabe’s demands for talks to reverse coup


The arrival in Zimbabwe of Sadc chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa today, is recognition of President Emerson Mnangagwa as president, analysts said yesterday, dismissing protests by ousted Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe that he was overthrown by his former deputy through a coup d’état and his demand for talks to “undo this disgrace.”

Ramaphosa, who was elected President of South Africa by Parliament on February 15 after Jacob Zuma resigned, heeding orders of the ruling ANC to bring an end to his nine scandal-plagued years in power, arrives in Harare accompanied by the International Relations and Co-operation minister Lindiwe Sisulu and the State Security minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba for talks with Mnangagwa.

A wealthy businessman, Ramaphosa, who took over from Zuma as head of the 16-nation Sadc body, will pay a courtesy call on Mnangagwa at Munhumutapa — the citadel of State power.

The two will discuss “bilateral co-operation as well as regional, continental and global issues of mutual concern” and also “pay a particular focus on the latest political and security developments in the region, including the regional economic integration agenda in the Sadc,” the South Africa Presidency said in a statement yesterday.

Ramaphosa arrives in Harare two days after Mugabe called for a meeting with his successor Mnangagwa, saying that Zimbabwe must return to “constitutionalism”, following his ouster in November.

“He is improper where he is. Illegal. And if he is to correct that illegality, he would want me to discuss with him and we must undo this disgrace which we have imposed on ourselves, we don’t deserve it, we don’t deserve it, please we don’t deserve it, Zimbabwe doesn’t deserve it. We want to be a constitutional country.

“Yes we may have our shortcoming here and there, but overall we must obey the law, become, constitutional.

“People must be chosen to be in government in the proper way. I will discuss, I am willing to discuss, willing to assist in that process, but I must be invited, properly invited for that discussion.

“Currently, I am isolated and I am glad I have your company,” Mugabe said.

Analysts yesterday said by highlighting that he wants to talk ahead of Ramaphosa’s visit, Mugabe wants to escalate this issue back to Sadc as a broker.

The press conference was viewed as opportunistic and an attention seeking stunt meant to attract Ramaphosa.

Mugabe seem to be warming up to an initiative by former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi to broker a deal aimed at having him and Mnangagwa smoke a peace pipe, and the former long ruling veteran brought in from the cold as a ruling party “elder” to back his former deputy’s presidential bid in mid-year elections.

Mzembi is pushing Mugabe to accept the proposition of a role similar to Zambian independence leader Kenneth Kaunda.

Mnangagwa said yesterday Mugabe “tendered his resignation in terms of Section 96, Sub-Section 1, of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

“He is entitled to express himself freely, as is the case for any private citizen,” he said.

“The Zimbabwe government continues to honour all its obligations towards the former president’s welfare and benefits, as provided for under the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“The nation has moved on. Our focus at this time shall remain on preparing for free, fair and credible elections in 2018.”

Eminent political commentator and civil rights activist Brian Kagoro told the Daily News he wouldn’t know why Mugabe has chosen this particular time to break his silence regarding the November coup.

“Is it not already common knowledge that a few weeks ago, a new party called NPF launched following some petition to the African Union?

“Most politicians are astute opportunists; Mugabe for years was in their premier league. I am not sure that AU or Sadc will necessarily bring him joy.

“They lack the will power, desire or instruments to reverse a position they took last year recognising Mnangagwa. If they act otherwise, I will be surprised, in fact shocked.

“Beyond the legal and constitutional questions — and these are compelling — Mugabe maybe negotiating his own safety or selfishly setting the stage for a future GNU in which his acolytes have a role.

“Worse still he could be sending warning shots to the establishment to stay off his family. It is about him, has always been about him and not the rest of us. We don’t matter to Uncle Bob.

“He refuses to apologise for all the misery he has caused. What a shame, disgusting in fact,” Kagoro said.

A peace and security analyst and also a doctoral researcher, Josphat Munetsi, told the Daily News Mugabe must be advised that he has no political traction and the November popular expression by the people of Zimbabwe remains paramount.

“To even imagine that he can escalate that to Sadc, AU (African Union) or any other inter-governmental body for them to reverse the current status quo is not only a failure to appreciate how this bodies function but merely ‘barking at a moving train’.

“For all we know, Sadc has continuously failed to deal with Lesotho, DRC and Madagascar while the AU has not fared any better either in Burundi, Sudan, DRC, Cameroon and elsewhere. Therefore to even dream that the status quo will change is an exercise in futility,” Munetsi said.

Stephen Chan, a professor of world politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, said he thinks Mugabe is setting out a carefully crafted programme of criticising Mnangagwa, and doing so in a needling fashion.

“However, neither Ramaphosa nor Sadc has any stomach for a return of Mugabe. There was a lot of silent relief that he went, and that it was done without blood. It is very much in the interests of Sadc that Zimbabwe regains some economic capacity,” Chan said.

“Right now, Zimbabwe is contributing nothing to Sadc as an economic unit, and Sadc leaders know that this was because of Mugabe’s essential refusal to address economic issues, concentrating instead on party power politics.

“Mugabe should in fact lay out an economic policy if he wanted to demonstrate his credentials as a leader — but it seems from various reports of his wanting his pension in cash that he cannot even use a credit card.”

Pedzisai Ruhanya, a post doctoral research fellow with the University of Johannesburg, cited the doctrine or principle of effectiveness that posits that if one takes over power by whatever means and proves that they are in full control of the State machinery and apparatus both coercive and consensual, they are legitimate.

“This is the case with (president) Mnangagwa whether it pleases Mugabe or not. Sadc, AU and the rest of the international community won’t listen to those Grace-inspired and instigated rants by Mugabe.

“The coming to Zimbabwe by (president) Ramaphosa is a form of legitimation of Mnangagwa presidency so Mugabe is wasting time.

‘Instead, he is encouraged to find common ground with the new authorities and secure the economic interests of his young family and stop those delusional outbursts,” the media and democracy scholar said.

– DailyNews

Breaking News via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to our website and receive notifications of Breaking News by email.