HARARE – President Cyril Ramaphosa’s envoys to Zimbabwe, Sydney Mufamadi and Baleka Mbete, met with Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Sunday.
The MDC Deputy National Chairman Job Sikhala said the envoys will be meeting MDC leader Nelson Chamisa in the evening.
The country’s information secretary Nick Mangwana posted pictures of the pair meeting Mnangagwa at his statehouse.
Last week, Ramaphosa appointed Mufamadi, a member of former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki’s cabinets, and Mbete, former deputy president and speaker of the National Assembly, “as his Special Envoys to Zimbabwe, following recent reports of difficulties that the Republic of Zimbabwe is experiencing”, according to a statement from the presidency.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele confirmed to News24 that Mbete and Mufamadi arrived in Zimbabwe on Sunday.
— Nick Mangwana (@nickmangwana) August 10, 2020
While the exact details of their programme are unclear, it was expected to involve speaking to several stakeholders, including civil society organisations, government, NGOs and political parties.
This, after widespread alarm over the arrests of journalists and a clampdown by security forces in Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa launched a crackdown on planned nationwide protests on 31 July to highlight complaints about the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and its assistance to the poor.
Activists and journalists have also allegedly been abducted and there was rising alarm over reports of human rights abuses.
The Zimbabwean government have denied this and claimed everything was peaceful.
According to Human Rights Watch, Zimbabwean authorities have arrested at least 60 people in connection with anti-corruption protests as Zimbabwean authorities have increasingly arbitrarily arrested critics of Mnangagwa’s government.
Mufamadi and Mbete aren’t the first envoys to Zimbabwe. In 2017 corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma sent Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and then State Security Minister Bongani Bongo as his special envoys.
Before being appointed to Cabinet, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu was also Zuma’s envoy to Zimbabwe, where she was subjected to misogynistic remarks from Mugabe.
Mbeki was often criticised for his policy of “quiet diplomacy” regarding Zimbabwe.