South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s special six-member delegation, which left Harare on Wednesday after a closed-door meeting with top Zanu PF officials, has painted a gloomy picture of the situation in Zimbabwe, rubbishing claims by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government that all is well.

One of the delegates, Toni Yengeni, who heads the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party’s peace and stability committee, told journalists on landing at Waterkloof Airforce Base in Pretoria that it was risky to allow the situation in Zimbabwe to fester.

“There are problems in Zimbabwe, major challenges both of social, economic and to some extent of a political nature,” Yengeni told SABC journalists.

Head of delegation, ANC’s secretary-general Ace Magashule echoed similar sentiments, although he was a bit ‘measured’.

“We have agreed that there were challenges in Zimbabwe that must be confronted. As liberation movements, we should respect human rights. We respect freedom of association and freedom of speech,” Magashule said.

He told the South African media that they would fly back to Harare in a few weeks where they would meet with other stakeholders including civil society, opposition members and the church to get to the bottom of the crisis in Zimbabwe.

ANC’s international relations committee chairperson Lindiwe Zulu rubbed in saying, “..we had to put all those issues on the table, issues of human rights and others… we went beyond that. Unless we are frank with each other, it won’t help the situation. I can assure you, it was a meeting with a difference.”

She said the two parties were honest to each other in the meeting that started in the morning and stretched into the evening.

She said they would soon report back to ANC and organise to meet other stakeholders in the Zimbabwean crisis or even invite them to South Africa for talks aimed at unlocking the country’s political logjam.