ZANU-PF yesterday reacted angrily to South Africa’s persistent calls for the party to come clean on the crisis in Zimbabwe and receive assistance in resolving the problems, arguing that there was no need for the neighbouring country to offer help.
On Sunday, South Africa’s International Relations minister Naledi Pandor said the influx of Zimbabwean economic refugees was a clear indicator that the country was in a serious crisis.
Zanu-PF denies the existence of a crisis, and accuses the opposition, civic society and Western diplomats of spreading “malicious” allegations to tarnish the image of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government as part of a regime change agenda.
Speaking on public broadcaster SABC, Pandor said Zimbabwe should admit there is a crisis and receive assistance to resolve the issues it is facing.
“I am sure you are aware that the government of Zimbabwe and its governing party (Zanu-PF) are saying there are no problems in their country and we are arguing that actually there are difficulties because we have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Zimbabweans in South Africa.
“Many of them indicate that they are here because the situation on economic progress is dire in their country and so we do think there is a basis for us to have a collaboration to see how we might assist Zimbabwe to achieve economic recovery and a level of stability that will allow the people of Zimbabwe to feel they are able to return to their country and contribute to its development.”
“But that can only happen when the government of Zimbabwe openly says to South Africa that we do think we should have a conversation about development,” Pandor said, insisting it was up to Zimbabwe to acknowledge the crisis.
She said South Africa was not avoiding direct intervention, but urged Harare to first admit that there is a crisis and seek help.
“When we have sought help, we have opened up and said we have a problem in this area, could we talk to country X or organisation B to see how we resolve our problems and when only we get to that level of openness and admission that we begin to address problems that confront us,” Pandor said.
“We are ready to have a discussion through which we will provide any assistance required, but when a leader says there are no problems, who am I, a mere Minister of International Relations, to say well, Mr President, I know there are problems. It’s just not done, it’s not diplomacy.”
But Zanu-PF information director Tafadzwa Mugwadi yesterday said South Africa had never helped Zimbabwe in any way and should just “shut up”.
“What help does South Africa give Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe has never received any cent from South Africa and you have to be aware of that. They are lying to the world and if they say they will help Zimbabwe, you would think there is money stashed somewhere to be given us, yet they have never given us anything. They must just shut up, we don’t need their help,” Mugwadi said.
“They must stop giving us a headache. They must just stop it. Who are South Africans and who do they think they are?”
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party and its South African counterpart, the African National Congress, have been trading blows over the crisis in Zimbabwe, with officials in Harare vehemently insisting there is nothing like that in the country.
“Where and when was that said? I did not hear or see that,” Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said when asked to comment on Pandor’s comments.
South Africa has been active in trying to intervene in the Zimbabwean political and economic crises and has twice dispatched special envoys as part of efforts to resolve the crisis, which have hitherto come to naught.