SA Ramaphosa appoints special envoys to Zimbabwe

SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Sydney Mufamadi and Baleka Mbete as his special envoys to Zimbabwe, following recent reports of difficulties that the country is experiencing.

The special envoys are expected to engage the Zimbabwean government and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe, said the Presidency in a statement.

“The president’s special envoys will leave for Zimbabwe as soon as all the arrangements are made.”

The move comes after Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, announced on Thursday morning her department had been in contact with her Zimbabwean counterpart, the 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 minister in a statement.

Zimbabweans recently took to the streets to protest against alleged state corruption and the country’s slumping economy.

The government has denounced the protests, calling them an “insurrection”. As a result, some of the country’s citizens, were arrested and charged with incitement to commit violence and breaching anti-coronavirus health regulations.

The country’s government has been widely criticised, with social media users shedding light on the protests using the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.

Amnesty International has also joined those who condemned the crackdown on protests and dissent.

“This latest witch-hunt and repression of peaceful dissent is a continuation of what we have seen in the country in recent years, including the abductions and arbitrary arrests of those who are critical of the government,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Southern Africa.

“The brutal assault on political activists and human rights defenders who have had the courage to call out alleged corruption and demand accountability from their government is intensifying,” she said.

Additional reporting, AFP