The decision by the Zimbabwean government to deny President Cyril Ramphosa’s envoys an opportunity to meet with opposition leaders was not only disrespectful to the office of the African Union Chairperson, which Ramaphosa currently holds, but seems to confirm that the voices of the opposition and civil society are being muzzled in Zimbabwe.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) now calls on President Ramaphosa, in his capacity as AU Chairperson, to show leadership and go to Harare and meet with all the relevant stakeholders and get a balanced picture of the political crisis unfolding in the country.
Media reports indicate that Sydney Mufamadi, Baleka Mbethe, and Ngoako Ramathlodi were hosted to a ‘tea briefing’ by Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa then told the envoys that ‘there was no crisis in Zimbabwe’ and hence no need to meet with the opposition or civil society.
The envoys had made plans to meet with the opposition and had to cancel them at the last minute because of Mnangagwa’s strong-arming tactics. This is unacceptable.
Mr Mnangagwa’s government has unleashed a reign of terror on defenceless citizens, arresting journalists and activists on trumped-up charges. For him to claim that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe and ask that the envoys sent by the AU Chairperson turn around and go back without meeting the opposition, is a poor attempt at covering up the actions of his murderous regime.
For far too long, successive ANC governments have stood by as ZANU-PF has trampled civil liberties with impunity and disregard for the rule of law. The ANC has played an enabling role in the Zimbabwe crisis by glossing over state brutality in the country and its mismanagement of the economy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa faces the first real test in his Chairmanship of the AU. He will have to make a choice on whether to stand with the people of Zimbabwe against the tyranny of ZANU-PF or continue with the failed policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’.
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