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Mnangagwa to cooperate with SA's envoys

10 Aug 2020 at 16:15hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa conferred with President Emmerson Mnangagwa before he appointed his two special envoys to Zimbabwe last week - amid allegations of human rights violations in the country - it has been confirmed.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa had "nothing to hide" - and would thus engage with Ramaphosa's envoys in an "open and transparent manner".

This comes after Ramaphosa appointed former South African vice president Baleka Mbete and ex-Local Government minister Sydney Mufamadi as his special envoys to Harare last week, "to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe".

"The two leaders (Ramaphosa and Mnangagwa) have been communicating and what you are seeing is a result of an agreement which they reached to send the envoys into the country to discuss various issues.

"That is how we do diplomacy. That is how it is done by following proper and clear channels.

"You don't stand on top of a roof and shout whatever you want to see happen and expect to see things being done your way. That is not proper diplomacy," Charamba told the Daily News.

He also dismissed the #ZimbabweLivesMatter movement which has attracted international attention, describing it as a "ghost movement with no tangible backing on the ground".

"We don't deal with ghosts on social media as the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc). If I ask you today to touch the #ZimbabweLivesMatter movement, will you be able to touch it?

"Non-existent or ghost movements will not amount to anything or resolve anything. So, we deal with real human beings and real issues on the ground," Charamba said.

All this comes as the government is under huge local, regional and international pressure over alleged human rights violations, and a recent crackdown on government critics.

However, the government has dismissed the claims, saying that gory videos and images circulating on social media have been "doctored" to smear the image of the country.

"To set the record straight, there is no crisis or implosion in Zimbabwe. Neither has there been any abduction or war on citizens.

"Like any other country in the world, Zimbabwe has been enforcing Covid-19 lockdown regulations intended to safeguard and protect the lives of all citizens. Where necessary the law has been fairly applied.

"The deliberate attempt to smear the country's image is betrayed by the use of doctored images, old video clips and highly exaggerated claims on social media, all intended to paint a picture of a burning Zimbabwe," the permanent secretary in the Information ministry, Nick Mangwana, has said.

In the meantime, Ramaphosa's cautious intervention in the Zimbabwean crisis has got off to a rocky start, with the opposition warning at the weekend that they will not be railroaded to accept any deals that they disagree with, as had happened a decade ago when the country's unity government was put in place.

This came as well-placed sources in South Africa told the Daily News's sister paper, the Daily News On Sunday that Ramaphosa's surprise move to appoint the special envoys followed preliminary talks within his government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) about how Pretoria could encourage national dialogue among Zimbabweans - including between Zanu-PF and some of its self-exiled former officials.

The opposition said on Saturday that they expect any dialogue that may take place as a result of South Africa's intervention to lead to comprehensive political and economic reforms - including sweeping changes in the country's security sector.

Tough-talking MDC Alliance vice president, Tendai Biti, also said they would not make the same mistakes that they made in 2008 when the MDC was forced into an uneasy coalition government with Zanu-PF, having won the hotly-disputed elections of that year.

"We now look forward to the agenda and the mandate of the team. We know Mufamadi very well from the time we negotiated the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in 2008.

"We are curious to know their mandate and how that will interconnect with Sadc and AU (African Union), because any mediation outside the two will be difficult because we need impartiality.

"We have not been formally approached, but we know it is the people of Zimbabwe who have made Ramaphosa to act.

"So, we cannot be ignored. Zimbabweans cannot be ignored," Biti told South African television channel eNCA.

"In 2008 we negotiated a very difficult agreement, the GPA, which focused on stability more than democracy - doing a disservice to the agenda of democracy. It skirted the issue of security sector reforms.

"This time around, anyone who wants to be involved with Zimbabwe must understand that the problems are structural and that they cannot be white-washed," he said further."Mufamadi must know that the task ahead is huge because Zimbabweans are not going to take anything short of respecting their will.

"So we emphasise democracy over stability because the former is the guarantor of the latter," Biti added.

At the same time, political analysts and the Church have also cast doubts on the latest mission to try and finally end Zimbabwe's worsening crises.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, is among the analysts who have warned that Ramaphosa's mediation effort is likely to fail because the government does not accept that there is a problem in the country.

"Ramaphosa holds an important position as AU chairperson, and he has thus been forced by circumstances to act.

"He cannot afford to fold his arms when a neighbour is burning … this is also an indication that the continent has heard the cries of Zimbabweans and there is an appetite to act.

"However, the fact that the Zimbabwean leadership does not agree that there is a crisis makes it difficult for him. How does he proceed when their interpretation of the problem is running parallel?" Masunungure told the Daily News on Friday.

"The envoys will gather data from all stakeholders and what they will get in terms of the interpretation of the problem will most likely be contradictory and conflicting.

"They will compile their report and it will be up to Ramaphosa to say if there is a crisis worth mediation or not. But how to proceed will be a difficult task for him given that Mnangagwa's government thinks the crisis is being concocted by the opposition," he added.

Similarly, churches have also warned that SA's mediation efforts would not necessarily resolve the country's socio-economic and political problems if Zimbabweans did not take the government to task and speak with one voice.

The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Kenneth Mtata, said the solution to the country's long-standing problems could only come from Zimbabweans.

"It is commendable that President Ramaphosa has taken interest to respond to the situation in Zimbabwe. But South Africa can only do so much.

"We as Zimbabweans must shape our destiny together. Even if we get an envoy from heaven, if we are unrepentant, the envoy will go back empty-handed.

"What we are advocating for is a consensus model which can happen at the grassroots level, where there is an enlightened citizenry, at civil society level where we have churches, the media and different organised actors participating in agenda setting and the third level where political actors provide a consensus which allows for collaboration," Mtata said.

Source - dailynews
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