By Nqobani Ndlovu
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly expressed concern over the unfolding socio-economic crisis in Zimbabwe and pledged his government’s support to a churches’ initiative towards finding a lasting solution.
Ramaphosa met the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) general secretary Kenneth Mtata on Monday among other delegates where the Zimbabwe question was also discussed.
Mtata is also the chairperson of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA), a network of National Councils of Churches (NCC) in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region.
According to a statement by Mtata, the South African President expressed concern “about the challenges that Zimbabwe continue to face leading to many fleeing that country.”
“He said that he was aware of the famine, doctors’ industrial action, the fuel queues, and broader social challenges. He said he was committed to making sure that his government would support efforts towards a lasting solution,” Mtata said.
The clergy, under the ZCC banner, are pushing for a National Convergence Platform (NCP) which will be signed on December 13.
It seeks to bring together all political parties, civic society groups and Zimbabweans from all sectors to input into a national vision that seeks to, among others, get the country out of its political and socio- economic crisis.
The country’s multi-faceted crisis is manifesting in hunger and deep-seated poverty among others bedevilling the generality of the populace with analysts warning this could plunge Zimbabwe into becoming a failed State.
Mtata added: “He (Ramaphosa) said that his government was committed in making sure that sanctions are lifted on Zimbabwe, even if they are targeted on certain individuals.
“The country will be perceived as an unattractive investment destination. He recognised with appreciation the efforts of the churches in finding a lasting solution through dialogue. He said his government would support such initiatives towards a lasting solution.”
On the political front, the opposition MDC is questioning the legitimacy of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and insists on dialogue to deal with the legitimacy issue.
Mnangagwa has said he is open to dialogue with MDC leader Nelson Chamisa but under Political Parties Dialogue (Polad) meetings with some opposition parties that participated in the 2018 presidential elections.
Tveit said, after the closed meeting between Ramaphosa and the delegation: “The meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa was a unique occasion to raise global issues on the agenda of the World Council of Churches which are also significant challenges for the churches and the society of South Africa today.”
While Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko could not be reached for comment yesterday, a statement by the South African leader’s office confirmed the meeting with WCC leaders at the Lakes Hotel in Benoni, Gauteng.
“The engagement by the President with the highest echelon of the clergy\p is in the context of advancing the objective of realising a socially cohesive and safe South Africa and the world,” read a statement from Ramaphosa’s office. NewsDay