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Mnangagwa's govt welcomes Ramaphosa's envoys

by Staff reporter
08 Aug 2020 at 19:37hrs | Views
THE government says it will co-operate fully with the special envoys that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed as the regional power tries to help resolve the country's challenges.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the emissaries were welcome, as this would give Harare the opportunity to prove to the world that "there is absolutely no problem here".

"Zimbabwe has always been happy to entertain and work with envoys from our neighbour … moreso in this case when they are appointed by the president of our close sister republic.

"After all, we share so much more than neighbourliness and sisterhood. We forged a common political soul as we jointly and militarily faced the scourges of settler minority rule, racism and apartheid all the way to final victory in 1994," she said.

This comes after Ramaphosa appointed former South African vice president Baleka Mbete and ex-minister Sydney Mufamadi this week as his special envoys to Zimbabwe, to engage Harare over its deepening political and economic crises.

"The special envoys are expected to engage the Government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe.
"The president's special envoys will leave for Zimbabwe as soon as all the arrangements are made," Ramaphosa said on Thursday night when he announced the duo's appointment.

South Africa, the affable Mutsvangwa added in her interview with the Daily News yesterday, was in a better position than other countries to assist Zimbabwe — owing to its knowledge of Harare's political dynamics, having mediated in previous local crises.

"We know that South Africa would never wish for Zimbabwe what it does not desire for itself. South Africa has always been against the post imperial intrusion of the West.

"(Former) President Thabo Mbeki frustrated the George Bush-Tony Blair attempt to invade Zimbabwe as a sequel to the Iraqi invasion.

"Mbeki again re-worked the GNU compromise to contain a polarising break in 2008, much to the chagrin of Washington.

"(Former) President Jacob Zuma did the same in 2017. He caught Washington off balance by declaring just in the nick of time that there was no coup against (the late former president Robert) Mugabe in November 2017," Mutsvangwa said.

"In all these instances, Washington and its NATO allies were hankering to intervene militarily and engineer regime change in Harare, which has been their stated goal since 2002 ZDERA.
"This is a goal that has remained elusive because Pretoria has no truck with post imperial agendas," she added.

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

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

But University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure warned yesterday that Ramaphosa's mediation effort was likely to fail because the government did not accept that there was 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.

"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.

Another analyst, Admire Mare, said while the appointment of the envoys was a step in the right direction, there was nothing to suggest that Mnangagwa's administration was ready to reform.

"We hope they will adopt a root and branch approach rather than deal with the symptoms of the crisis.

"Unfortunately, Ramaphosa has little options to turn to. So, he will go the mediation route. But it's not clear whether all the parties will do so in good faith or just for the sake of buying time because the situation is very dicey at the moment," he said.

Similarly, churches have warned that 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," he said.

The ZCC has also argued in the past that international mediation will not yield tangible results, calling for internal dialogue.

"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.

Outspoken Zimbabwe Divine Destiny head, Bishop Ancellimo Magaya, weighed in saying that local action was more important than international intervention.

"We cannot ignore that there is an extent to which regional and international intervention can put some pressure on the government to act, but ultimately if people in Zimbabwe are not active and pile pressure on the government, the interventions will not produce long term solutions to our problems.

"We need more voices from various sectors to speak in unison against the government's ruthlessness, brutality and corruption.

"We all need to take to the streets and social media to say that just like you have arrested Jacob Ngarivhume, arrest us all. Create more space in the cells for us," Magaya said.

"When we reach a point where people are ready to die for the restoration of the country, then the government will be forced to act.

"The pressure from the regional community can only complement pressure from within. If we are weak and mediocre in the way we approach rights violations and high levels of corruption, then even the regional and international community's intervention will be mediocre.

"These are liberation movements who view each other, after all, as buddies. As such they will not pile pressure which will yield any tangible results as we have seen in the past.
"The only time that we saw the ruling party seemingly bowing to pressure from South Africa was in 2009 during the formation of the GNU, which also didn't do much in terms of addressing the root cause of our problems," Magaya told the Daily News.

All this comes as government has been accused of launching a brutal crackdown against the organisers of last week's flopped mass protests.

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

The government has refuted the allegations — claiming instead that the opposition is allegedly working with foreigners to destabilise the country.

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Source - dailynews

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