By Dumisani Sigogo
The current Chair of the Africa Union, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa’s special envoys sent to Zimbabwe to assess the political and security situation in the country following an international outcry over alleged human rights abuses, have returned home after only meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa but snubbing the crucial opposition parties, civic society organizations and other stakeholders.
The two main Movement for Democratic Change formations, the MDC Alliance and MDC-T spokespersons confirmed that the three South African envoys cancelled at the last minute scheduled meetings with them without any explanations.
Led by former deputy president and speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, and former Cabinet ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi, the delegation had been commended by the African Union Commission (AUC) as an encouraging mediation effort to support Zimbabwe in finding political solutions to its troubles.
The rejection by the envoys comes at a time when the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union(AU) and neighboring South Africa in particular have been strongly criticized for being soft and favoring the ruling liberation movements such as ZanuPF even when they are abusing their citizens and failing their own countries.
Urging Harare to uphold the rule of law and to protect human rights, the chairperson of the AUC, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said he was closely following political developments in Zimbabwe and hoped the SA envoys dispatched by Ramaphosa would find clarity on the alleged human rights violation and abductions.
After the meeting Mnangagwa at State House on 10 July, Mufamadi declined to say what came out of the meeting but promised that Ramaphosa would speak soon. told reporters that. He
“We can’t tell our president what was discussed through the media. We will brief him and he will then make it public,” he said.
The MDC Alliance indicated that it felt let down and was disappointed that the envoys only met with Mnangagwa who maintained that there’s no crisis in Zimbabwe.
“The MDC Alliance was formally requested to be available for a meeting today, the 10th of August 2020, with the special envoys that were deployed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to Zimbabwe. A delegation remained on standby from 10am this morning only to be advised at the end of the day that the special envoys would be returning to South Africa without meeting the MDC Alliance delegation in order to brief President Ramaphosa on the outcomes of their meeting with Mr. Mnangagwa.”
In the statement from their spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere, the MDC Alliance it was angry and blamed Zanu PF for stopping the envoys from meeting its representatives.
“We can only assume that the failure to meet the MDC Alliance delegation was as a result of demands made by the Zanu PF delegation. We reiterate that Zimbabwe is in a state of crisis that has been characterized by a de facto gate of emergency a crackdown on citizens, abductions. arbitrary arrests of government critics and the political persecution of journalists.”
“It is clear that Mr Mnangagwa is not ready to resolve the national crisis through genuine dialogue. However, the deteriorating plight of the Zimbabwean people means that a political settlement is more urgent than before. We will continue to mount pressure on Mr Mnangagwa to engage in sincere dialogue until national crisis is resolved,” continued the MDC Alliance.
The Thokozani Khupe led MDC-T, in a statement, by the party spokesperson Khaliphani Pugeni, said: “After meeting with His Excellency President E.D Mnangagwa, the South African Ambassador H.E Mbete called Dr Khupe, to inform her that the meeting with President Ramaphosa’s envoys has been deferred to a future date. As MDC-T we welcome this development and remain positive that the two leaders in President Ramaphosa and President Mnangagwa will get to the bottom of the issues bedeviling our beautiful nation and Zimbabwe will once again experience peace, unity love and harmony.”
Reacting to opposition parties’ concerns about the South African envoys failure to meet other political and civic players, Information Secretary, Nick Mangwana, suggested that there was nothing unusual as it was normal for diplomats or special envoys to meet a head of state and go back to their respective countries without necessarily meeting opposition parties.
During the Heroes’ Day speech in Harare on 10 July, President Mnangagwa said the allegations and criticism of human rights abuses by his government were renewed “unjustified attacks by our perennial detractors, both inside and outside our border”.
“The divisive falsehoods and concoctions by renegades and supremacists who want to pounce on our natural resources will never win the day. Truth shall triumph over lies, and good over evil,” said Mnangagwa.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights alleges that more than 60 people have been arrested and tortured in connection with the July 31 protests that were crushed by police, the army and state security forces.
The protests were against the ZanuPF government’ s failure to address the worsening economic crisis which the citizens are blaming on corruption but President Mnangagwa claimed that the people, who wanted to stage the protest, were enemies of the state.
Journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono and Transform Zimbabwe leader, Jacob Ngarivhume, are languishing in jail for allegedly attempting to topple a constitutionally-elected government. Their incarceration and other allegations of state sponsored terror against dissent has given momentum to the hashtag ZimbaweanLivesMatter movement which has gained support from leading African personalities such as former Botswana President Seretse Ian Khama.
Speaking in a recent interview on Botswana’s Duma FM, Ian Khama who has in the past been a loan voice and controversially broke rank with other African statesmen on the Zimbabwe situation, called upon Zimbabweans to make personal sacrifices to liberate themselves from the repressive ZANU PF-led government.
Khama who also used to criticize the late former president Robert Mugabe, for gross human rights violations said he had hoped Zimbabwe was on the path to prosperity again when Mnangagwa took power in 2017. However, Khama who said he now regrets his decision to attend President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration, urged Zimbabweans to mobilize and act in a way that will pressure African countries to pay attention to their plight.