SOUTH African President and African Union chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday said his special envoys to Zimbabwe must travel back to Harare soon and engage all stakeholders to fully appreciate the gravity of the crisis in Harare.
This comes as South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party intensifies efforts to assist Zimbabwe emerge from its deepening crisis.
Ramaphosa last month dispatched former Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete and former Safety and Security minister Sydney Mufamadi as his special envoys to Zimbabwe, but the team sparked controversy after it only met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and snubbed other key stakeholders, including the main opposition MDC Alliance party.
The South African leader has been under pressure from within the ANC, South African opposition parties including the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Democratic Alliance and One South Africa, among many others, to act on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Pressure has also been coming from the region and global community for South Africa to find a solution to the Harare crisis that has seen dozens of citizens, including activists, journalists, lawyers and civic society leaders under siege.
Several others have gone into hiding fearing arrests, abduction and torture at the hands of State security agents.
“The ANC notes the work being done to continue silencing the guns in Mali and Libya and ensure stability in Mozambique, Sudan and Zimbabwe,” Ramaphosa said.
But Mnangagwa has always denied that there is a crisis in the country.
Ramaphosa was speaking after a virtual national executive committee (NEC) meeting of the ANC.
“The national executive committee welcomes government efforts to engage the situation in Zimbabwe, in particular the deployment of special envoys.
“It emphasised the efforts of the envoys in engaging all the stakeholders in the country to assist in addressing the current situation. ANC and government processes must complement each other,” he said.
“The envoys, indeed, went and met President Mnangagwa and his delegation. They had extensive and quite lengthy discussions and in the course of the discussions, it became clear that we needed to have a process that they would engage other people there and we felt that we should give consideration to that and that is something we would obviously want to see happening.”
Ramaphosa said the ANC was also arranging a meeting with Zanu PF on the Zimbabwean situation for “a party-to-party discussion”, but emphasised the need for the South African ruling party to engage all stakeholders as well.
He said an ANC delegation would soon be dispatched to Zimbabwe.
“The NEC also expressed the need to meet other stakeholders in Zimbabwe and clearly important that we get as broad a view of what is happening in Zimbabwe as we possibly can,” Ramaphosa said.
Zanu PF and government last month said the special envoys were only sent to meet Mnangagwa over the Zimbabwean crisis, while the MDC Alliance said it was disappointed after the emissaries left without meeting other key stakeholders.
There were reports that Mnangagwa had personally blocked the special envoys from meeting other stakeholders.
However, NewsDay heard that Mnangagwa had lined up the Political Actors’ Dialogue (Polad) to meet the special envoys.
Ramaphosa said the ANC supported engagements with Zanu PF in trying to understand the challenges in Zimbabwe.
“The NEC agreed also that the ANC must speak to all parties and all stakeholders as well,” he said.
ANC chairperson for the international relations committee, Lindiwe Zulu, last week said Zimbabwe was in a crisis, adding that people must be “open about it”.
Her views echoed sentiments by Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary-general, who said the country was indeed in a crisis and a solution was urgently needed, despite denials by the Zanu PF government.
Zimbabwe has been reeling under multifaceted crises, that include political, health and humanitarian.
The United States, the United Kingdom, European Union, The Elders, African Union Commission, church and civic society, among others, have called for inclusive dialogue to help resolve the logjam emanating from the disputed 2018 presidential elections.
But Mnangagwa insists he will not talk to his main challenger MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa until the opposition leader joins Polad.
But Chamisa has vehemently stood his ground, accusing the grouping of being an extension of the ruling party.