SOUTH African president Cyril Ramaphosa has finally taken steps to try and remedy the fast deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe through appointment of special envoys to engage the Harare administration.
This follows massive pressure from both prominent and ordinary South Africans to take action on Zimbabwe.
Social media protesters have been pushing Ramaphosa as the AU chairperson to act on the situation.
Ramaphosa was attacked by the online protesters after he posted a condolence message following explosions in Lebanon that brought massive human loss and property while remaining tight-lipped on the situation next door.
Reads a statement from Ramaphosa’s office, “The President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, has appointed Dr. Sydney Mufamadi and Ms Baleka Mbete as his Special Envoys to Zimbabwe, following recent reports of difficulties that the Republic of Zimbabwe is experiencing.
“The Special Envoys are expected to engage the Government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe.”
“The President’s Special Envoys will leave for Zimbabwe as soon as all the arrangements are made.”
Mufamadi is the former Minister of Provincial and Local Government (1999 to 2008).
In 1994, after South Africa’s first democratic elections, he was appointed Minister of Safety and Security in the Government of National Unity – a position he held until 1999.
Mbete is former South Africa Deputy President, former Speaker of the National Assembly and former Chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC).
Earlier Thursday, South Africa’s international relations minister Naledi Pandor “noted with concern” reports of abuses in Zimbabwe and said she had discussed the issue with her counterpart Sibusiso Moyo by phone on Tuesday.
Security forces deployed last Friday to thwart protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government’s record on corruption and a worsening economic crisis.
Several activists say they are in hiding from police. Tawanda Muchehiwa, the nephew of ZimLive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu was abducted on July 30 and tortured for three days before he was dumped near his home. Doctors say his kidneys were damaged.
However, the Harare administration has adamantly rejected claims of rights abuses in the country with Information Ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana describing the reports as the “works of detractors bent on tarnishing the country’s image”.
“To set the record straight, there is no crisis implosion in Zimbabwe. Neither has there been any abduction or war on citizens,” he said Thursday.
On Tuesday, Mnangagwa took an stiff stance, telling the nation in a special address his administration was under relentless attack from enemy forces both within and outside.
He vowed his government will stop at nothing to enforce law and order within a restive population.