Opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has described President Emmerson Mnangagwa as a rebel who is starting many fires that could destabilise the region if left unchecked.
This comes amid a major row between Zanu PF, the party Mnangagwa leads, and South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party which is fighting to address rampant human rights abuses north of the Limpopo.
Twice the ANC has sent high-powered delegations to Zimbabwe to try and resolve the political gridlock and on both occasions, the envoys have left Harare frustrated after Zanu PF refused them permission to meet opposition parties and civic society.
A third trip is scheduled within a month.
Although a communiqué after last week’s meeting of the two parties suggested they were working in harmony, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule told journalists back in his homeland that they were concerned about the human rights situation in Harare and that they expected peace and stability in Zimbabwe.
“We are going to meet (opposition parties) so that we are able to bring together the people of Zimbabwe, recognising that they are coming from recent elections and we need peace and stability in that province,” he said.
In an exclusive interview with NewsDay yesterday, Chamisa said Mnangagwa had become “a problem child” in the region.
“When a neighbour is in the habit of setting his yard on fire, all neighbours will be affected,” Chamisa said.
“All our neighbours will be affected by a reckless neighbour who always sets his yard on fire. Such a neighbour is a dangerous neighbour. South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and other neighbours cannot be victims of a neighbour who suffers from pyromania, where one is in the habit of setting fires,” he said.
Chamisa said the ANC’s stance on Zimbabwe was commendable and its visit last week was confirmed that the country was in a crisis.
“The fact that the ANC delegation (has twice been to) Zimbabwe confirms that there is a crisis,” Chamisa said, describing their position on Zimbabwe as “principled”.
“Zimbabwe is burning. That the ANC has had to visit and be in Zimbabwe and not Namibia or Zambia or Mozambique or any other country in the region (during the COVID-19 crisis when air travel is risky) is a confirmation that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe.”
He said efforts by Zanu PF to decimate the opposition and silence people amid the crisis would be stopped.
Zimbabwe has put herself on a collision course with Pretoria, with Zanu PF says the ANC should not interfere in Harare’s internal affairs and accusing it of acting like a “big brother”.
“It (South Africa) has no mediatory role to play in Zimbabwe or in any other country and Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa. It follows that there is no interventionist approach to the way that South Africa relates to us. South Africa, in the context of international relations, is not a big brother to Zimbabwe. It has no overseer role to play in Zimbabwe and the region,” Zanu PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said following Magashule’s remarks.
The ANC has, however, refused to be intimidated, with its leaders who were part of a meeting with Zanu PF officials last week insisting that they were coming back to meet other stakeholders, including United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols, a strong critic of the regime.
The ANC’s stance received support from its coalition partners, with the South African Communist Party (SACP) calling for the region and the African Union to intervene to stop the crisis in the country.
“The central committee expressed solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, many of whom found themselves with no other option, but to leave or flee the country. South Africa is host to most of them, and in many ways, directly impacted by the crisis in Zimbabwe,” the Blade Nzimande-led SACP said in a statement after its central committee meeting at the weekend.
“The assertions that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe are nothing, but a denial of the self-evident truth. The people of Zimbabwe should independently solve their problems, yes, but help by Sadc and the African Union is important. International solidarity is also crucial.”