‘South Africa doing its best for Zimbabwe’
Speaking to the Johannesburg-based Power FM radio station on Monday, the country’s International Relations minister Naledi 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 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.
In November, Pandor said it was time for the Sadc region to play a bigger part in helping end the country’s crises — which she warned had had devastating effects on the region as a whole.
“We would be greatly assisted in playing a positive role if we knew there was a shared notion in Zimbabwe of what must be done, and this is an extremely important point for us.
“While indeed as the South African government we work very closely with the Government of Zimbabwe, it would be difficult for us to be seen as playing a role only with the government, given the large nature of the problem that confronts our country.
“So, I think that we need to be provided with a path that indicates that as we … provide support, all the parties, all the groupings, all the stakeholders in Zimbabwe are at one, so that … support can be brought in,” Pandor said then.
“By all accounts there are serious and seemingly intractable political factors that might need attention if solutions are to be effective or implementable.
“The political formations in Zimbabwe remain at loggerheads and have apparent deep anti-pathy towards each other, which makes joint decision-making and planning extremely difficult,” Pandor also said.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki was in Zimbabwe last December to try to nudge President Emmerson Mnangagwa to hold much-needed political dialogue with the opposition.
He is yet to return to the country amid indications that his mediation efforts are dead in the water.