Source: Business Day

Ramaphosa’s envoys hold marathon talks with Zanu-PF officials but fail to meet opposition political parties and civic organisations as instructed

09 SEPTEMBER 2020 – 23:55 

Harare — The ANC delegation that visited Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission is again returning to SA without meeting opposition political parties and civic organisations — as they had been instructed to do by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Leader of the delegation ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, who had promised to meet all players in the Zimbabwean crisis, also promised his team would be back in the country to meet those they had not been able to meet.

These included the main opposition MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa, US ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols and civic organisations that had specifically requested to meet the delegation.

Ramaphosa instructed his delegation to get all sides of the story on the situation in Zimbabwe but that did not happen as the meeting with Zanu-PF started at 10am and ran into the night. The delegation was expected to return to SA on Wednesday.

Zanu-PF secretary-general Obert Mpofu said the two parties had avoided using the word “crisis” but had agreed that there were challenges facing both countries.

Zimbabwe is saddled with an inflation rate above 800%, an unemployment rate above 85% and a surge in the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths.

In addition, the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been accused of corruption and human rights abuses and of brutally cracking down on critics.

The ANC delegation — made up of Magashule, party chair Gwede Mantashe and national executive committee members Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Tony Yengeni, Lindiwe Zulu and Enoch Godongwana — is the second team from SA in as many months to have visited Zimbabwe, allegedly on fact-finding missions.

In early August a delegation comprising former ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi and former speaker Baleka Mbete embarked on a similar fact-finding mission. They also came back without meeting the other political players in the country and have also promised to go back.

A communique released after the marathon meeting between the two parties said they agreed on “reinvigorating” ties between the two former liberation movements. They also resolved to step up efforts aimed at having the sanctions imposed by Western countries lifted.

Magashule told journalists after the marathon meeting that discussions between the two parties were “frank and open”.

“We committed ourselves to self-introspection and renewal of our values as liberation movements. At the centre of whatever we are doing should be the people of Zimbabwe and the people of SA — that should be our work as liberation movements,” he said. “Because of time, we decided that we will come back and engage other stakeholders. We agreed that we have challenges facing not only our two countries but also the continent so we agreed to work together for our people.”

Asked about the ANC’s position on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, Magashule said: “As liberation movements, we should by all means respect human rights, freedom of association and freedom of speech.

“While we do that, we will engage with other parties and other stakeholders. We cannot tell Zimbabwe what to do, but we can only engage with them.”