Zimbabwe ruling party divided over ANC mediation

The view of Harare from my room at the Rainbow Towers Hotel. The tall building to right (about 300 m away) is the headquarters of the ruling party, Zanu PF.

SHARP divisions have emerged in the ruling Zanu-PF party with hardliners rubbishing South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to intervene in the Zimbabwean crisis while moderates have welcomed the move.

The hardliners, led by presidential spokesperson George Charamba yesterday said South Africa was too young a democracy to intervene in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs and had no capacity to help any Sadc country, except simply offering solidarity messages.

But in sharp contrast, Zanu-PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said the ruling party had no qualms with the coming in of an African National Congress (ANC) delegation to meet “whoever they want”.

This discord in the ruling party came following Ramaphosa’s announcement on Monday that he would soon dispatch his special envoys back to Harare to meet all key stakeholders, including the opposition, civic society and the church to resolve the deep-rooted crisis before it morphs into a regional crisis.

Charamba said South Africa’s actions raised suspicion that Pretoria was being used as a pawn in United States diplomacy, adding that only Zimbabwe had the capacity to play a stabilising role in the Sadc region.

“Lastly, whence comes this impression that South Africa can intervene in Zimbabwe, assuming there are grounds for such intervention?” Charamba tweeted yesterday under a pseudonym @Jamwanda2.

“On what basis, what might, what capacity, beyond that of solidarity, camaraderie and good-natured concern by a neighbour? South Africa is the youngest State in our region. It faces myriad problems of along apartheid. It has no capacity to help any African State in Sadc, beyond friendly solidarity.”

South Africa last month deployed three envoys to Zimbabwe after its own ruling ANC party and the international community raised alarm over worsening human rights violations under Mnangagwa’s watch.

The position was taken after ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, chairperson of the international relations committee Lindiwe Zulu and Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Naledi Pandor warned that the Zimbabwean crisis could spill into the region.

Mnangagwa has, however, denied that the country is in a crisis.

“Let that sink into minds of all and sundry. In any event, Zimbabwe, alongside many Sadc countries which got their independence before South Africa, has gone quite some way in resolving its colonial legacy and empowering its people, something the ANC government is grappling to do just now,” Charamba added.

“South Africa is no donor State in Sadc. If anything, its long apartheid legacy makes its post-1994 sub-regional role quite problematic for the rest of Sadc States who know the continued dominance of Afrikaner capital in Sadc.”

South Africa got her independence in 1994.

But Mpofu yesterday said Zanu-PF had no qualms with the coming in of an ANC delegation as they always met as “sisterly parties”.

“We are always collaborating with the ANC on a regular basis and this is really not a new development as indicated by yourselves. We are colleagues so there is nothing new to this kind of collaboration,” Mpofu said.

“On this particular one we have been communicating with the ANC on this and engagement to address issues as we have done before with them, so we are ready for this meeting which is sanctioned by our principals.”

Mpofu said it was time to be honest with each other on the “crisis in Zimbabwe” because “We don’t want to allow social media to draw up an agenda for us.”

Contacted for comment over the conflicting statements, Zanu-PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa referred all questions back to Charamba.

“A response on the matter has already been pronounced by Charamba,” he said. MDC Alliance secretary for international affairs Gladys Hlatywayo said the ANC and South African government were clear on the Zimbabwean issue and their move to engage all stakeholders was welcome.

“It shows you that the Zimbabwean crisis is more of a domestic policy problem for South Africa than a foreign policy issue due to the impact it has on South Africa. That is why President Cyril Ramaphosa referred to the crisis on the Beitbridge border,” she said.

“……we certainly welcome this move and hope it will help us as Zimbabweans to move forward and resolve the crisis.”

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said: “The ANC has broken a psychological barrier of seeing Zanu-PF as a rational fellow liberation movement to seeing the Zimbabwe crisis for what it is, that is a crisis of governance rooted in poor leadership.”

“The reason the ANC supported the 2017 coup was to see a change in Zimbabwe governance not more of the same as under (the late former President Robert) Mugabe. To this end, the ANC has removed its political blinkers as the Zimbabwe crisis is equally affecting South Africa and the whole region.”

He said Zanu-PF should look at the ANC position positively as an “escape route from the trap they have put themselves into and which they have no capacity to self-extricate.”

Another political analyst Alexander Rusero said diplomacy deals with reciprocity and South Africa could only intervene in the Zimbabwe crisis if Zanu-PF accepted, which was not the case.

“For starters Zimbabwe government has vehemently denied and declared that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, something ANC refutes. So already, the two can’t walk together when there is no consensus,” Rusero said.

“Zanu-PF is back to its default mode. On its part, ANC has its own problems and is also heavily divided, as evidenced by the discord and breach of protocol on officials commenting on Zimbabwe. Put simply, there is nothing to celebrate or write home about in a mere resolution.”

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director Blessing Vava said the ANC position was a step in the right direction.

“It is a step in the right direction, though the engagement with Zanu-PF as a liberation movement is probably meant to massage egos. The emphasis by President Ramaphosa that they will engage all stakeholders is a progressive move that should be welcomed and we hope that it will result into something,” Vava said.

Source – newsday