THE talks between Zanu-PF and a delegation of the top brass of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) yesterday were described as “friendly but frank” last night.
Sources who spoke to the Daily News after the meeting said both sides had been very candid and robust with each other in the heart-to-heart dialogue, with all the niggling issues put on the table.
This was later confirmed by both parties when they addressed the media last evening.
At that media conference, the ANC bigwigs implored both Zanu-PF and the opposition to work together in the interest of the country, and to end Zimbabwe’s myriad challenges.
At the same time, Zanu-PF gave the ANC the green light to meet with the opposition and other interest groups the next time they come to Zimbabwe.
Yesterday’s meeting between Zanu-PF and the ANC came as calls for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to hold national talks with all key stakeholders have now reached a crescendo – in the wake of Zimbabwe’s deepening and decades-long political and economic crises.
One of the well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News last night said yesterday’s high-profile meeting had devoted a lot of time to discussing the country’s myriad challenges, including the urgent need for national unity.
Another source also told the Daily News that Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) boss, Isaac Moyo, had made a presentation poking holes in the allegations of local human rights abuse that have been made by the opposition and pro-democracy groups.
“Substantial discussion was on the political situation in the country, especially issues to do with alleged human rights violations.
“A situation report was tabled during the discussion and at the end the ANC delegation agreed that social media was being abused to exaggerate what is happening in the country,” the second source said.
A third source told the Daily News that the ANC delegation, including secretary-general Ace Magashule and national executive committee member Lindiwe Zulu, was of the firm view that there was need for dialogue among Zimbabweans to end the country’s deepening crises.
“There was emphasis on internal interaction, interaction of political parties, civil society and other stakeholders to find lasting solutions to our challenges,” this source said.
All in all, all the sources said the meeting was robust and frank, with one of the sticking points being Zanu-PF’s reluctance to have the ANC meet with the opposition and other key stakeholders.
They said Zulu in particular pushed hard for the SA delegation to meet with the opposition. However, her calls were met with fierce resistance from Zanu-PF, especially its acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa.
Chinamasa apparently argued that such a development would also mean that it would be proper for Zanu-PF to meet South Africa’s biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).
At the end of the meeting it was agreed that the ANC heavyweights would come back another time to meet the opposition.
Briefing the media, Magashule said the meeting had progressed well as both parties were “frank with each other”.
“We had very frank, open and robust discussions and we committed ourselves to introspection and renewal of our values.
“We have agreed that at the same time, at the centre of whatever we do as liberation movements should be our people who are still marginalised and jobless because that is our work.
“We have agreed that as the ANC, we came here to engage with Zanu-PF and yes we have agreed that we will come back to meet other stakeholders or whoever you refer to … so that we understand and comprehend the challenges.
“We have received requests from Transform Zimbabwe political party, the United States ambassador, Simba Makoni, Zapu and the MDC Alliance … we agreed with Zanu-PF that it was important that we meet them .
“So we are going to arrange for our coming back to meet them,” Magashule said.
The ANC stalwart also said they had agreed with Zanu-PF that while Zimbabwe was facing challenges economically and politically, that did not amount to a crisis.
“In terms of issues of human rights, we have said as liberation movements this is what we have fought for and what we were fighting against during colonialism, and that therefore we should by all means respect human rights.
“We are the first to say we respect human rights, freedom of association, freedom of speech and all the basic freedoms which are there universally.
“So, we re-committed ourselves time to ensure that we listen to the views of others while we continue to interact and that is why we will engage other parties and stakeholders.
“We will come back to meet with them so that we encourage interaction.
“We cannot dictate to Zimbabweans what to do because it is a sovereign country like any other and therefore as fraternal organisations we continue to engage so that we have one understanding in terms of human rights,” Magashule added.
He also said the parties had agreed that the sanctions against Zimbabwe were hurting the country and its efforts to revive its economy.
“The economic discussion is very important and that is what we are going to carry forward because as long as we don’t have the economy in our hands we will continue to have problems.
“As the ANC, Sadc and the AU (African Union), we have said that for as long as we have sanctions you are not creating a conducive environment for economic development for us, Zanu-PF and former liberation movements to create an integrated economy for the region.
“And, therefore, it’s important to continue making a plea to the entire world and the US for the sanctions to be removed,” Magashule said.
On his part, Zanu-PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said they had discussed the alleged tarnishing of the country’s image by the vanquished Zanu-PF faction Generation 40 (G40) members who were now exiled in South Africa.
“We discussed the issue of fugitives who seem to be behind some of the misinformation being peddled.
“We also tried to avoid using the word crisis because there is no crisis in Zimbabwe. That is why my colleague has referred to them as challenges not only in Zimbabwe but in South Africa as well.
“We are talking about people’s aspirations and how do we measure people’s aspirations other than through the democratic process that saw Zanu-PF get over two thirds majority from the very people that they purport to be concerned about.
“It was a no-holds barred meeting. This was the frankest and most candid engagement that I have experienced,” Mpofu said.
Well-placed sources had told the Daily News earlier this week that the two ruling parties would, among other things, deal with “worrying lapses” by some ANC bigwigs – who stand accused of “consorting” with members of Zanu-PF’s G40 faction who are in self-imposed exile.
All this comes as South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa has been pressing to end Zimbabwe’s long-standing challenges – which were recently brought to the fore again after authorities were accused of gross human rights violations by the opposition and pro-democracy groups.