Johannesburg – The leader of the One South Africa Movement, Mmusi Maimane, said on Tuesday that the government of South Africa had failed to use its leadership role on the African continent to intervene in the “ongoing mass abuses in Zimbabwe”.
Economic Freedom Fighters’ outspoken leader Julius Malema has lambasted President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for its decision to compensate white farmers who were dispossessed of land during a controversial land reform process. He has also called for the removal of Zimbabwean embassy from South Africa.
The former leader of the Democratic Alliance, who has been vocal on social media using the trending hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter, told African News Agency that calls are increasing for Pretoria’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco), led by Minister Naledi Pandor, to intervene in Zimbabwe.
“Firstly, I think the Department of International Relations must intervene in what is going on in Zimbabwe. I will certainly be communicating to Dirco to make sure that the Zimbabwean government can explain to citizens of this country what is going on. Secondly, we must all condemn human rights violations. That is foreign to South Africa and to the African continent,” said Maimane.
“We cannot allow those who were liberators to become oppressors. That is what is happening in Zimbabwe right now.”
During his tenure as DA leader, Maimane had joined protests at the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa. He said that for a very long time Pretoria’s stance on Zimbabwe has been a letdown, particularly since President Cyril Ramaphosa is leading the African Union.
“In short, one can safely say South Africa has failed to lead Africa, and South Africa has ridiculously failed on Zimbabwe. Quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe is not going to work, and that has been proven. It failed to work when we, as South Africans, intervened in the formation of that government of national unity after the opposition MDC had won the elections; that was our initial failure,” said Maimane.
“Keeping Mugabe in power when he had lost an election was our initial failure. Furthermore, when atrocities where committed under President Mugabe, South Africa kept quiet. Now it is happening under the current regime. I call it a regime, frankly, because of the atrocities they are committing.”
Maimane added: “I really think the government of South Africa has failed the people of Zimbabwe.”
The outspoken opposition figure said he will be joining the protest announced by civil rights movement #NotInMyName at the Zimbabwean embassy this week.
“I hope we stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe. I am in connection with the various opposition parties in Zimbabwe, particularly the Movement for Democratic Change, because it is important for us to remember that our fellow Africans really stood in solidarity with us when South Africa was under apartheid,” said Maimane.
#NotInMyName on Tuesday announced that it will be leading protests at the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria to highlight what it termed a disappearance of democratic space in South Africa’s northern neighbour.
“It is evident that the Zimbabwean regime is hellbent on subverting our civil liberties and the country’s constitution through thwarting and prosecuting dissenting voices. As #NotInMyName International, we will thus be picketing at the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria on Friday,” said secretary-general Themba Masango.
“We are in solidarity with all progressive forces of the world and today particularly those in Zimbabwe, in Africa and the diaspora. Our destinies are intrinsically linked and therefore it will be amiss for us as South Africa’s leading civil society voice to be quiet and still at a time such as this.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a televised address on Tuesday that “dark forces” were attempting to derail his presidency and vision for Zimbabwe.
He called them “destructive terrorist opposition groupings” and “dark forces both inside and outside the borders”.
Opposition and civil society groups said reference to “terrorists” meant the president was on the warpath to crush all dissenting voices.
British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mary Robinson, said she was concerned about “toughening language on and off social media in Zimbabwe”.
Zimbabwe has record inflation at 788% since the reintroduction of the local dollar last year and rampant corruption that has sucked in some members of the first family.
Vice-president of the MDC Alliance Tendai Biti said Mnangagwa was running out of ideas.
“The emperor has no clothes,” he said.
Mnangagwa made no reference in his address to abductions and arrests of civic society activists and opposition politicians ahead of the July 31 demonstrations against his rule.
There is now an international outcry led by South Africans through the hashtag #zimbabwelivesmatter.
EFF leader Julius Malema gained praise from the opposition for suggesting SA should close the Zimbabwe embassy until Mnangagwa addresses human rights abuses.