SENIOR STAFF WRITER
©️ THE government is seething with anger after regional powerhouse, South Africa, commented on Zimbabwe’s long-running political and economic crises earlier this week, the Daily News can reveal.
This comes after Pretoria’s International Relations minister, Naledi Pandor, was interviewed by the Johannesburg-based Power FM radio station — where she, among other things, urged Zimbabwe’s political players to engage in dialogue.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News last night that local authorities — apparently including President Emmerson Mnangagwa — were not impressed by Pandor’s comments, especially her throw-away remark that South Africa was not considering military intervention in the country.
“We are not happy. Even the president (Mnangagwa) is not happy about what the minister said in her interview.
“We are going to launch a formal complaint to the South African government through the country’s Foreign Affairs ministry.
“This is because the minister is offending against the principle of subsidiarity … which means that even though South Africa is the current chair of the African Union (AU), it has no right to interfere on regional issues.
“That is the function of regional structures. So, the minister is offending against the principle of subsidiarity,” one of the sources said.
“Areas of politics and security come under the direct responsibility of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation and Zimbabwe is the current chair of this organ.
“That gives us the latitude to intervene in Mozambique and to intercede between Zambia and DRC, and also to deal with the Lesotho issue,” another source said.
The second source also claimed that this was not the first time that Pandor had spoken out of turn on Zimbabwe.
It was also claimed that Pandor had been organising meetings on Zimbabwe without the approval of either President Cyril Ramaphosa or Mnangagwa — allegedly prompting Ramaphosa to apologise to Mnangagwa on numerous occasions over his minister’s conduct.
“Many people have gotten jobs at the United Nations by attacking Zimbabwe. I believe this is one of those situations where people want to be seen speaking up about the country’s situation to get international recognition,” another angry senior government official said.
The same official also said it was noteworthy that South Africa had declined to bail out Zimbabwe over the years, in addition to Pretoria imposing many tariffs and non-tariff barriers on the country’s exports, thereby negatively affecting the two countries’ trade.
“All initiatives for economic support from South Africa have come to nought. From the days of the First Republic it was (former SA Finance minister) Trevor Manuel who was shooting down the agenda for a financial package for Zimbabwe, even after the leaders had agreed on this.
“This time around it is Finance minister Tito Mboweni … including things as elementary as allowing us to use their rand. They will just not allow us to use it.
“If anything, the help we have had from them is that of political hot air, and I don’t know if that is their sense of assisting us,” the fuming official said.
“You can all see that the relationship is inherently imbalanced in many ways, and then someone dares tell us they are assisting us. How are they assisting us?.
“The solutions to Zimbabwe will be generated by Zimbabweans. South Africa is already over extended in terms of its domestic challenges. It has no capacity to go abroad and there should never be that misconception,” the official added.
Speaking to Power FM on Monday, Pandor said Pretoria would not use a hawkish approach to end Zimbabwe’s growing problems.
“I think the South African government is in consistent engagement and interaction with the Government of Zimbabwe, both to persuade as well as to provide support where it is needed.
“Let me give you an instance of the opposite of our policy … you had Saddam Hussein with respect to Iraq. The decision of (former US president) George W Bush was to use American warfare in Iraqi.
“Where is Iraqi today? It is a shell of what it was under what was a dictatorship of (the late Iraqi president Saddam) Hussein,” Pandor said.
“We engage consistently. Non-interference means we wouldn’t use our soldiers, our army to invade Zimbabwe, to enforce a platform of democratic practice that we have in South Africa.
“We believe that such is a decision that Zimbabwean people must make.
“However, we are able — through diplomatic engagement — to persuade the people of Zimbabwe that they need both political as well as an economic revival, which does mean that they have to change in policy and practice,” Pandor said further.
She emphasised that South Africa would continue to encourage dialogue in Zimbabwe.
“It is the political actors who, sitting around the table, will resolve those issues.
“South Africa or any other country trying to invade Zimbabwe in the belief that it can resolve the problems will be totally mistaken … this will lead to disaster, and in fact, may turn the people of Zimbabwe against South Africa,” Pandor added.
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