OPPOSITION political parties have expressed disappointment at the failure by the South African envoys to engage them during their one-day mission to Zimbabwe on Monday.
The envoys, Dr Sydney Mufumadi and Baleka Mbete arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday and headed straight to State House for a meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
They had been dispatched by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa “to engage the Government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe.”
Earlier in the day during his National Heroes’ Day speech in Harare, Mnangagwa labelled as “divisive falsehoods” criticism of human rights abuses by his administration and said these were “unjustified attacks by our perennial detractors, both inside and outside our border.”
After meeting with Mnangagwa, Dr Mufamadi and Mbete did not proceed to meet with the opposition although formal requests were made that their teams be on standby.
Last week, analysts pointed out that although the situation in Zimbabwe remained dire, the envoys were not going to achieve much.
MDC Alliance National Spokesperson, Fadzai Mahere, said their party’s delegation remained on standby only to be advised at the end of the day that South African delegation would be returning back to brief President Cyril Ramaphosa on the outcomes of their meeting with President Mnangagwa.
“We can only assume that the failure to meet the MDC Alliance delegation was as a result of demands made by the Zanu PF delegation,” Mahere said.
“We reiterate that Zimbabwe is in a state of crisis that has been characterised by a de-facto state of emergency, a crackdown on citizens, abductions, arbitrary arrests of government critics and the political persecution of journalists.”
The Alliance spokesperson said Mnangagwa’s government is incapable of resolving the country’s challenges as it lacked legitimacy and was not ready to resolve the crisis through genuine dialogue.
“However, the deteriorating plight of Zimbabwean people means that political settlement is more urgent than before. We will continue to mount pressure on Mnangagwa to engage in sincere dialogue until the national crisis is resolved,” she said.
The Thokozani Khupe led MDC-T also noted that it was supposed to meet the SA delegation but were informed by South Africa’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mphakama Mbete that the meeting had been “deferred to a future date.”
Observers said the failure to meet other stakeholders was disappointing for Zimbabweans who yearned for a solution to the country`s myriad of challenges.
ZAPU Southern Region Communications Director, Patrick Ndlovu, said the exclusion of other stakeholders left the South African envoys at the mercy of Mnangagwa’s administration.
“We are really disappointed and begin to wonder at the rumours of a compromised team sent to prop up a government. We believed in giving our erstwhile comrades the benefit of doubt. But it now seems apparent that they are complicit in this treachery judging by their history with Zanu PF,” he said.
Nldovu noted the envoy’ “quiet diplomacy” would not work with the “mafia in Harare.”
“In this instance the government is the culprit. How then are they expected to aid investigations into their own delinquency?” he said.
Leader of the African Diaspora Global Network, Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda said the action of the envoy confirmed his suspicions when it was commissioned to come to Zimbabwe
“But we also admit one of the issues guiding our concerns is the fact President Ramaphosa had indicated the envoys would meet government and other relevant stakeholders. We did not anticipate the envoys journey would be a one-day trip but obviously that could indicate there are some complications more than anything else. Probably the discussion ended maybe with Zanu-PF telling the envoy that Zimbabwe was fine and did not need interference,” he said.
Dr Sibanda said until a formal statement had come from the envoy or South African government, people could assume the worst.
“We are waiting to hear what is going to be given by the envoys and whether it makes any sense or not. But of course we are worried human rights abuses are continuing. We would have wanted to see a much stronger position that gives direction as to what needs to happen as far as Zimbabwe is concerned.
“We expect to see some communication from the government in general, as to the achievements or their findings. They may tell us they work out of Zimbabwe and could not further meet or were given an ultimatum to leave the country so they couldn’t meet opposition to explain that particular action. But something is very wrong and it needs to be addressed urgently,” he said.
On Twitter, Journalism and Political Studies Researcher, Alexander Rusero posited: “Envoys unlike Mediators usually speak on the level of government to government. They are dispatched not to mediate but have ‘clarity’ and in the process also convey certain ‘message’ to the host state!”