9 August 2020
The bickering between former allies, Zanu-PF and the ANC, would be interesting if the issues were not serious. Zanu-PF chastised the ANC for taking sides with Zimbabwe’s opposition and civil society organisations that, according to the former, are trying to unseat Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
With the ANC’s hands already full with COVID-19 corruption and other economic challenges facing the country, it seemed like the pot is calling the kettle black, as it were. Sadly, the countries both parties are in charge of are going through myriad challenges. If anything, they both could benefit from a frank discussion that might benefit the region.
One can understand that the Zanu-PF chiefs are miffed that the ANC is trying to deflect attention from South Africa’s own mismanagement of COVID-19 funds, among other issues. Publicity secretary Patrick Chinamasa said: “Magashule’s utterances were completely out of order.”
At the same time, the issues raised by the ANC about the deterioration of relations in Zimbabwe, or what President Cyril Ramaphosa says are “certain difficulties”, are completely legitimate.
Unfortunately, though, the two parties have so soured the waters that it now appears the appointment of former minister Sydney Mufamadi and former deputy president Baleka Mbete as envoys to Harare stands to achieve nothing more than deal with party-to-party relations than concrete issues affecting citizens in Zimbabwe.
“We note that this is not the first time a senior ANC leader has sought to speak like Zimbabwe’s prefect in similar fashion,” said Chinamasa, alluding to former president Jacob Zuma’s failed attempt in 2013 to quell tensions, which ended with Zanu-PF labelling then international relations adviser, Lindiwe Zulu a “street walker” and “idiot”.
This notwithstanding, the situation north of South Africa’s border is deteriorating. Fast. The regime in Harare now arrests ordinary people for simply carrying the national flag. Methembe Msipha of Bulawayo ended up in prison for walking the streets with a flag in hand a day before the July 31 planned national shutdown.
It is correct that citizens used the flag as a rallying call to remove Mugabe and replace him with his deputy Mnangagwa in 2016. Media student Tawanda Muchehiwa, 22 was also abducted for no apparent reason. So too was award-winning author Tsitsi Dangarembga, investigative journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu, broadcaster Hopewell Chin’ono and many others, including opposition leaders.
An obvious point to make, though, is that when Harare fails to manage its affairs, as it’s wont to do, we will feel the impact.
So while South Africa may have its own fair share of troubles, it must still find a better way of communicating with its neighbour.
Otherwise, the march from Harare and Bulawayo, through porous borders, will become a recurring feature of life between the two countries.
While South Africans may worry about the impact of the in-migration and possible embarrassing episodes of xenophobia, the inexorable impact on the quality of life affects both those fleeing their homes and those feeling crowded at home.