THE South African ruling African National Congress (ANC) party yesterday defiantly told Zanu-PF that its delegation would soon head back to Harare to meet other stakeholders as part of efforts to initiate dialogue to resolve Zimbabwe’s political and economic crises.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of its worst political and economic crises in a decade, and critics accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa of persecuting opposition members and perceived political opponents under the guise of COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
Lately, activists have used a Twitter hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter to draw international attention to gross human rights violations and the deterioration of the rule of law since Mnangagwa was adjudged the winner of a highly-contested election in July 2018, and to pile global pressure on his government.
Mnangagwa replaced long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in a November 2017 military coup, but critics say he has failed to keep his promise to break with Mugabe’s authoritarian style.
The ruling Zanu-PF party vehemently denies that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe, a claim it repeated during the two meetings with the ANC delegations.
But ANC, a fellow liberation party, has insisted that its northern neighbour is in a “mess” which required urgent intervention.
Zanu-PF has refused the ANC delegations permission to meet other stakeholders on their two visits, but appears to have relented.
In a statement yesterday, the ANC said it was “excited” about Zanu-PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu’s position on the possibility of the ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule-led delegation to meet other stakeholders, including the MDC Alliance, Transform Zimbabwe and United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols, among others.
The named organisations requested to meet the ANC delegation last week, but Zanu-PF remained adamant that such would not take place, accusing the ANC of playing “big brother”.
“The ANC welcomes and concurs with the comments made by the Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Obert Mpofu that the recent engagement between ANC and Zanu-PF was both frank and constructive,” Magashule said in a statement.
He reiterated the need for Zanu-PF to respect human rights and end the challenges faced by the citizens.
“The ANC, therefore, warmly welcomes the constructive approach of Zanu-PF with regards to the ANC meeting with other stakeholders, opposition parties and civil society organisations in Zimbabwe,” Magashule said.
“In this regard, it was agreed that the ANC will in the foreseeable future return to Zimbabwe in order to proceed with these envisaged meetings.”
Zanu-PF also denied there was a crisis in Zimbabwe and accused the opposition of working in cahoots with the US and more than 4 000 non-governmental organisations in the country to portray a “non-existent crisis”.
Magashule described his delegation’s mission as successful.
However, the delegation was under fire back in South Africa for using an Air Force jet during its visit to Zimbabwe.
Magashule conceded that the delegation erred and promised to reimburse the government.
This followed an outcry from opposition forces questioning why the ruling party delegation used an Air Force jet despite the fact that Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was also part of the delegation.