The South African government has broken its silence on the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
Reports indicate the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the African Union Chairperson reached out to his counterpart, Emmerson Mnangagwa about the unfolding socio-economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe, dominated lately by attacks on members of the opposition, activists and journalists.
The South African government was conspicuous with its silence while ordinary South African citizens including members of the opposition such as Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema and former public protector, Thuli Madonsela expressed concern on the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
This is after the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter movement triggered by the state`s hard-handed reaction to planned nationwide 31 July anti-corruption protests gained international attention.
President Mnangagwa reacted by laying the blame on the opposition whom he described as “terrorists” and threatened to “flush out those who destabilised” the country.
The South African government announced Thursday that it had taken note of the human rights abuse reports occurring in Zimbabwe.
In its official Twitter account, the government said its Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor was in contact with her Zimbabwean counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Sibusiso Moyo.
“As recent as on Tuesday, the two Ministers had a telephonic conversation, wherein Minister Pandor expressed South Africa’s readiness to assist if requested. Minister Pandor, reiterated South Africa’s commitment to peace and stability in the region and the African Continent.
“She stated that it remains South Africa’s resolve to continue the pursuit for consultative solutions to address the existing socio-economic challenges and to contribute to the wellbeing of all Zimbabweans, the people of the SADC Region and Africans at large,” said the South African government.
In South African media, ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule also confirmed that the ruling party had discussed the crisis in Zimbabwe.
“We are going to have a special session to engage on Zimbabwe. We see what is happening in Zimbabwe, the president is interacting with the president of Zimbabwe -worried about what is taking place there and it will have a spill-over to South Africa and so we will assist the Zimbabweans to stabilise their country and economy. We have a role to play as South Africa as the AU and as the ANC,” he said in an interview with eNCA.
Magashule said the ANC had also spoken to Zimbabweans in exile in South Africa about the crisis back home.
“Well I’m not there (in Zimbabwe) but we watch television, we have talked to some of the people who are exiled and ran away from Zimbabwe. We know their story, we heard them. That’s why we are interacting party to party to raise some of the concerns they have raised about what is happening n Zimbabwe,” he said.
However, the ANC Secretary-General, said he could not disclose the issues that had been discussed although he did mention it included matters of “brutality.”
“Of course we can’t condone… we said black lives matters, lives of human beings matters and Zimbabwean lives matter of course. What we see there on TV, we say it is uncalled for,” Magashule said.
The Zimbabwe government, however, insisted that there is no crisis taking place in the country, with the government’s spokesperson, Ndavaningi Mangwana claiming “no implosion was taking place, neither were there abductions or war on citizens yet like any other country in the world, they were enforcing Covid-19 regulations.”
In another development, President of the African Transformation Movement and member of the South African parliament, Vuyolwethu Zungula, also wrote to their Speaker, Thandi Modise requesting for an urgent debate on human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe.
“In light of the harsh realities of military police brutality experienced by Zimbabwean citizens amid anti-corruption protests, I hereby request that Parliament debates this matter urgently under the topic: Urgent Debate: Human Rights Violations in Zimbabwe amid anti-corruption protests.
“The silence of the House on this matter might have dire consequences for South Africa and further damning consequences for the people of Zimbabwe who are exposed to this injustice by the Zimbabwean government,” Zungula said.