Zuma sends envoy to Zimbabwe as Botswana warns against travel




South Africa's President Jacob Zuma gestures during a media briefing with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (not pictured) at the Union Building in Pretoria November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS)

PRETORIA – South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma Wednesday sent a special envoy to Zimbabwe as Botswana cautioned its citizens against travelling to the neighbouring country grappling with a leadership crisis.

President Zuma, who is the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), also dispatched a special envoy to Angola over the Zimbabwe issue.

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the State Security counterpart Bongani Bongo were sent to Harare to meet with President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwean Defence Force (ZDF).

SPOKE TO MUGABE

According to President Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga, the South African leader spoke to Mr Mugabe earlier Wednesday.

President Mugabe indicated that he was confined to his home, but said that he was fine, according to Dr Ngqulunga.

“South Africa is also in contact with the Zimbabwean Defence Force (ZDF).

“The special envoys will also be sent to the Republic of Angola to see President Joao Lourenco, Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security to brief him on the situation,” Dr Ngqulunga said.

CALL FOR CALM

President Zuma reiterated his call for calm and restraint and for the ZDF to ensure that peace and stability were not undermined in Zimbabwe.

Earlier Wednesday, President Zuma said he had noted with great concern the unfolding political situation in Zimbabwe.

He expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of government as that would be contrary to both SADC and African Union positions.

RESOLVE IMPASSE

“The President has urged the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Defence Force to resolve the political impasse amicably and has urged the Zimbabwean Defence Force to ensure that the maintenance of peace and security in the country is not compromised,” read a statement.

The Botswana Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman, Mr Emanuel Pheko, confirmed that a travel advisory had been issued cautioning Botswana citizens wishing to travel to Zimbabwe to exercise caution and avoid situations that endanger their lives.

“The Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation wishes to inform members of the public that in light of the recent developments in the Republic of Zimbabwe, Batswana are advised to avoid travelling to Zimbabwe until further notice,” Mr Pheko said in a statement.