SOUTH Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), is reportedly mobilising liberation movements in the Sadc region to pile pressure on Zanu PF over rampant state-sponsored human rights abuses, which have soiled the country’s image while prolonging the socio-economic and political crisis in the country.
South Africa Social Development minister and head of International Relations in ANC, Lindiwe Zulu said Sadc had to change its old ineffective ways of dealing with the Zimbabwe crisis, which she said was stripping citizens of their dignity while affecting the region.
Speaking during a webinar on Governance Accountability Platform hosted by the Brenthurst Foundation director Greg Mills last Friday, Zulu said she was meeting officials from other liberation movements in Sadc, including from Mozambique and Angola, among other countries, to find a way to assist the region in dealing with the Zimbabwe crisis.
Zulu, said liberation movements had a mandate to hold each other accountable in holding the ethos, culture and values of the liberation struggle.
“Sadc needs to deal with this in a different way, it cannot be the same old way of meeting, we get a report, the report is about (stuff that) we know. Sadc should deal with this in a different way and we believe we, as the ANC can work through that through other liberation movements,” Zulu said.
“In fact, when I finish this meeting, I am supposed to be talking to all my counterparts in Mozambique, in Angola and so forth.”
The African Union this month issued a statement calling on the Mnangagwa government to uphold human rights amid an online #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign, highlighting the gross human rights abuses by the state, corruption and poor governance.
Sadc, on the other hand, ignored the Zimbabwe crisis during its heads of state virtual summit mid-August, although some regional leaders are worried about the goings-on in the country.
Among the issues being raised by Zimbabweans and of concern to ANC, Sadc and AU, are arrests of opposition and human rights activists, attacks on journalists, abduction of citizens, deteriorating standards of living, rising poverty and unemployment as well as corruption and looting of public funds by the political elite among other socio-economic and political issues.
Envoys sent by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently only managed to meet Mnangagwa and no other players such as MDC Alliance leaders and civil society who they had also planned to meet.
Zulu said the ANC International Relations committee was working with the envoys so that they have an appreciation of the Zimbabwean situation, as a way of promoting frank and honest discussions with Zimbabwe.
“I assure you that President Ramaphosa is now committed to resuscitating and looking at what we did in the past, what works, what doesn’t work, how we must approach Zimbabwe right now. It’s in our interest that we are objective, we are honest and we engage objectively and honestly on the issue,” she said.
“We are not saying let’s run the show, we are saying let’s keep it in, but keeping it in doesn’t mean we must keep it in and people don’t know what we are about. It does not also help not to communicate what you are doing because people need to have confidence in what we are doing. We are meeting as the ANC. We have met quite a few times now to look at this differently.
“They (envoys) have a mandate to meet with Zanu and other political parties. They will not work in isolation and we will not have interest. We are feeding into them because we want them to succeed.
Zulu said it felt as if Zimbabwe was back to square one after the progress that had been made to unite the country during the Government of National Unity (GNU) and that the current administration had reversed the gains of the GNU.
“Zanu PF needs to appreciate the situation and we have to be bold about how we engage. Whatever success was achieved is being reversed. We have to be honest, agreeing first that there is a crisis,” Zulu said. “It seems we are back to square one. As ANC, we want to be of the best help we can as a liberation movement and as a country. And there is no way we can ignore what is happening in Zimbabwe. And there is no way we can ignore Zimbabweans crossing the borders.
“(As the) ANC subcommittee on international relations, we agreed (that) we are going to continue to engage Zanu PF because we don’t want people to say we are against Zanu PF, we are not against Zanu PF.
“One level of the political party is to engage Zanu PF and any other and create a fair playing field. Inclusive dialogue, we need to pursue on the economic side. I don’t think that the economy of Zimbabwe is that weak that it would not be able to be put up to the next level.”
She said Zimbabweans have been stripped of their dignity as professionals are having to work in restaurants, car washes and other manual jobs.
Zimbabweans have also been risking crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River at undesignated points in search of a better life.
The Zanu PF government has been lashing out at everyone speaking out against the Zimbabwe situation, including the ANC, AU, the United Nations, civil society, South Africa and Zimbabwe opposition, the church as well as the international community, denying that there was a crisis in the country.