HARARE – The South African Communist Party (SACP) – which is in a ruling coalition with the African National Congress – has slammed what it says is “growing authoritarianism” in Zimbabwe, ratcheting up the pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime which is accused of widespread human rights violations.

The ANC last week sent a delegation to Harare for discussions with Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF which were described as “frank” and sometimes “brutal”.

The 77-year-old Mnangagwa denies Zimbabwe is in “crisis” and instead blames his rivals and western countries of creating “fictitious narratives” in order to force his overthrow.

The SACP’s first deputy secretary Solly Mapaila, speaking during a virtual media briefing following a meeting of the party’s Central Committee on Sunday, said the crisis in Zimbabwe had a direct impact on South Africa as Zimbabweans flood Africa’s most industrialised nation.

Mapaila told reporters: “There is growing authoritarianism in Zimbabwe which we reject with the contempt it deserves. Particularly from our comrades in Zanu PF.

“We don’t think a revolutionary movement should decline in its ethos and democratic practices in the manner that is happening, whilst denying it. We see that many Zimbabweans are running away from their own country.

“And I think if any revolutionary movement will think that they can achieve any objectives without their people, it’s a pipe dream.”

Mapaila does not hold a government position and could speak freely. SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, who is also the minister of higher education, science and technology, was more measured.

“The assertions that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe are nothing but a denial of the self-evident truth,” he said.

“In fact, you don’t even have to go to Zimbabwe to see the crisis. You only have to go to our informal settlements in South Africa to see how many Zimbabweans who would love to have a good life, who are trying to make an honest living for their families.”

Nzimande said it was “unfortunate” that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government delegation last month only met with the governing party and didn’t meet “with other structures and forces as well”.

Like the ANC delegation last week, the government delegation was barred by Zanu PF from meeting other stakeholders.

Mnangagwa’s regime has hit out at the ANC and other critics, including the former Botswana president Ian Khama as it faces a new kind of regional pressure led by revolutionary parties.

His Zanu PF party pushed back at a news conference on Friday, accusing the ANC of meddling.

“In the contest of international relations, South Africa is not a big brother to Zimbabwe. It has no overseer role to play in Zimbabwe or in the region.

“And not being a province of South Africa, it follows that there is no interventionist approach to the way that South Africa would relate to us,” Zanu PF acting spokesman Patrick Chinamasa said.

Zanu PF says plans by the ANC to send a delegation back to Harare to meet with the opposition will be opposed.

“That is outside the agreement that we reached in the meeting (on Wednesday last week),” Chinamasa said. “We agreed that Zimbabwe and South Africa are equal sovereign states and that on the basis of being sovereign states, there is no need for interventionist approach.

“There is no way an ANC delegation will come to Zimbabwe to interfere in our domestic affairs.”