BY RICHARD CHIDZA
OPPOSITION MDC leader Nelson Chamisa is reportedly seeking to meet South African President Cyril Ramaphosa when he arrives in Harare for a State visit on March 12, NewsDay has learnt.
MDC insiders said Chamisa, who late last year claimed he had written to Ramaphosa seeking his intervention in Harare’s developing political crisis, will take advantage of the South African leader’s impending State visit to “door-step him” into a meeting.
“He is working out a plan to approach Ramaphosa for a meeting. It’s highly unlikely because Ramaphosa is coming here to meet (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa in his capacity as leader of Zimbabwe and specifically for business. The other thing is Ramaphosa has already taken a position and it’s almost a waste of time to think he will shift,” a top MDC source said on condition of anonymity.
Ramaphosa’s International Relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu, in announcing the visit, said South Africa was demanding the unconditional removal of sanctions against Harare to “allow development and reforms”.
Sisulu was echoing Ramaphosa’s stance made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, recently at which the South African leader said the world needed to give Mnangagwa’s administration a chance to implement its reforms and development agenda.
Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda seemed to confirm an attempt to talk to Ramaphosa will be made.
“President Chamisa has the utmost respect for His Excellency, The Right Honourable President Ramaphosa. He has communicated with regional leaders at every turn and will continue to take every opportunity to engage with the region and especially the South African President His Excellency Ramaphosa,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko was not available for comment.
South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mphakama Mbete, said he was not aware of Chamisa’s planned meeting with Ramaphosa.
“I have not been made aware of their (MDC) wish (to meet Ramaphosa). I can’t speak on behalf of my President regarding this issue,” he said.
Chamisa, Sibanda added, is concerned about the political, economic and social implosion that is worsening in the country, “and hopes that regional engagement would concentrate efforts on solving the problems that are within Zimbabwe’s control”.
“We surely can rebuild our country by dealing with the scourge of corruption, the inhumanity of human rights abuses, the indignity of a militarised State and the indecency of electoral impropriety,” the opposition leader’s spokesperson said.
“The president (Chamisa) will, with due respect, not engage in any diplomatic work using public media. If there are or were to be any communication with President Ramaphosa on his visit to Zimbabwe, the publicisation of the same would be subject to diplomatic protocols.
“President Chamisa always wants to balance public interest and support the work of the media with the need to respect diplomacy.”
Chamisa late last month rejected Mnangagwa’s call for a meeting to discuss the framework for possible dialogue among political actors in the country, instead demanding the release of activists arrested following deadly protests in January.
He has also demanded a neutral convener for such an indaba.
Other losing presidential candidates attended Mnangagwa’s meeting.