Government welcomes Pretoria envoys … but analysts, churches are sceptical that SA will achieve much
By Mugove Tafirenyika
and Sindiso Mhlope
“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.
“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.
“(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.
“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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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. ButSouth Africa can only do so much.
The ZCC has also argued in the past that international mediation will not yield tangible results, calling for internal dialogue.
“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.