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Welshman Ncube to lead engagements with Ramaphosa envoys

by Staff reporter
18 Aug 2020 at 17:11hrs | Views
THE MDC Alliance is hopeful that South African envoys will be able to nudge President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF to finally hold much-needed dialogue with the opposition and other key stakeholders to end Zimbabwe's decades-old political crisis.

So hopeful is the Alliance, that it was apparently persuaded not to escalate its grievances against Mnangagwa and the government to the just ended 40th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) - which was held virtually.

This comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa is trying to end Zimbabwe's worsening political and economic crises, which have once again attracted international attention - following the government's alleged breach of human rights in the country during last month's foiled protests.

It also comes as Mnangagwa, who ascended to power via a popular military coup in November 2017, has come under growing pressure from long suffering Zimbabweans over his government's failure to mend the country's broken economy.

Now, ahead of the planned return to Harare by Ramaphosa's special envoys - former South African vice president Baleka Mbete and ex-ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi - the MDC Alliance says it is hopeful that this will result in positive engagements.

Alliance sources told the Daily News yesterday that its leader Nelson Chamisa had appointed his deputy, Welshman Ncube, to lead the engagements with the South envoys when they return to Harare.

"Ncube is close to Mufamadi. They worked together in the 2008 inclusive government negotiations. Our party is now hoping to use this closeness to Mufamadi to tell our side of the story.

"We are hopeful that the process will be successful. We decided not to write anything to Sadc in the hope that the negotiations will go well.

"The party is still waiting for feedback from VP Ncube, but engagements are already underway with the envoys," a senior MDC Alliance official told the Daily News yesterday.

Ncube confirmed to the Daily News that he had been assigned by Chamisa to engage Ramaphosa's envoys.

"The correct position is that as vice president responsible for international relations and administration, I have been assigned by president Chamisa to co-ordinate the work of the various MDC Alliance departments who are working on the party's submission to the envoys - which the president intends to make to the envoys when and if they return to the country to consult us and other stakeholders.

"When the envoys returned to South Africa last week, the South African ambassador to Zimbabwe telephoned president Chamisa indicating that the envoys intended to return to Zimbabwe as soon as possible, and that we would be advised once the dates are confirmed.

"It is in that context that we have continued to work on our submission that the president will make to the envoys," Ncube told the Daily News.

Last week, Pretoria said it would soon dispatch the special envoys back to Harare - to meet with all key local stakeholders, including the opposition - having failed to do so on their first visit.

"We sent envoys there (to Zimbabwe) because there have been huge concerns about reports of abuse of human rights, imprisonment of opposition MPs and many other concerns which have been directed at the presidency and my department.

"We agreed that the president would appoint three envoys and they would visit Zimbabwe.

"We asked that they should meet the government, particularly President Mnangagwa, but also meet other stakeholders in the opposition, NGOs and so on," South African minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor said.

"Unfortunately, they (special envoys) could not meet other stakeholders, but Zimbabwe has indicated its readiness to facilitate such a visit and we are in discussion with the president (Ramaphosa) about the envoys returning to Zimbabwe to have wider meetings and to be able to have face contact.

"So, we are not distressed by the fact that full expectations were not met in the first visit.

"My understanding is that the discussion was cordial and indeed the desire of President Ramaphosa is that there be meetings with individuals and organisations other than the (Zimbabwean) government. This was communicated by the envoys," Pandor said further.

She also emphasised that South Africa would continue to engage all stakeholders in Zimbabwe so that the crises in the country could be resolved.

"This is something that we must continue to work at because, as I say, the situation of Zimbabwe impacts on South Africa and South Africa has to … resolve the problems there in order to address our own situation and focus on the challenges of South Africa," she added.

The appointment of the envoys came after authorities were accused of gross human rights violations in the country - following the government's heavy deployment of police and soldiers ahead of the foiled July 31 mass protests.

Last month, opposition and pro-democracy groups planned to stage massive protests against the country's worsening political and economic crises, but were stopped by authorities who deployed security forces throughout the country.

Rights groups have claimed that dozens of opposition figures and activists have been tortured and assaulted in a retributive exercise by suspected security agents.

On its part, the government has refuted the allegations - claiming instead that the opposition is allegedly working with foreigners to destabilise the country.

South Africa and its leaders - including former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma - have in the past successfully mediated Zimbabwe's political crises.

A decade ago, both Mbeki and Zuma helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between former opposition giant Morgan Tsvangirai and former president Robert Mugabe - who are both late - following the hotly disputed 2008 presidential election.

Zuma also assisted in minimising Zimbabwe's chaotic approach to the equally disputed 2013 national elections.

Both Chamisa and Mnangagwa have previously said that they were interested in dialogue, although nothing concrete has happened - primarily because of differences over the form and platform on which the talks should take place.

On his part, Mnangagwa has been consistent that any talks with Chamisa should be held under the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) - where he regularly holds meetings with fringe opposition leaders.

Chamisa has repeatedly ruled out joining Polad - demanding instead direct dialogue with Mnangagwa.

Source - Daily News