The ANC delegation led by secretary-general Ace Magashule arrived in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to engage the ruling Zanu PF party over reports of massive human rights violations orchestrated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
They were welcomed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Zanu PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and several senior party officials.
On Wednesday, they held their first meeting with Zanu PF at its party headquarters.
The ANC delegation is comprised of chairperson and Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe, Defence Minister and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, NEC and National Working Committee member Tony Yengeni, Social Development Minister and chairperson of the NEC on international relations Lindiwe Zulu and chairperson of the NEC on economic transformation Enoch Godongwana.
Zanu PF acting national spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said in a statement Tuesday that the ANC delegation would meet the Zanu PF delegation led by the secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu, as part of party to party engagement.
“We are also aware that this visit is taking place against the backdrop of false claims of a nation in crisis. Zanu PF will take this opportunity to share the reality on the ground in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and in the region and frankly with their revolutionary sister in the ANC.”
However, according to an ANC NEC member, Dakota Legoete, the SA delegation’s agenda was to express South Africa’s displeasure over the influx of Zimbabweans in South Africa estimated to number five million.
This put a strain on the neighbouring country during the devastating Covid-19 pandemic. South Africa is the worst affected country in Africa in terms of Covid-19 infections and deaths.
“The ANC delegates will engage in party to party relationship to find a common understanding and solution to challenges faced by both South Africa and Zimbabwe, and discuss how it impacts the economic, political and social stability of both countries,” he said.
Sophie Mokoena, SABC political editor recently confirmed that the other ANC delegation’s agenda was the issue of millions of Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
“There is a Zimbabwe crisis in South Africa. One senior government official said because of Covid-19, they are feeling the pressure because people are crossing into South Africa from Zimbabwe illegally because they are leaving Zimbabwe because of economic challenges, political reasons.
“The Constitutional Court in South Africa has ruled that whatever government is going to do to assist the citizens of this country, the South Africans, on Covid-19, they must do the same to the refugees.
“Therefore, it is getting very heavy for the social development department in particular. Now you have the added burden of people who are coming in because they are experiencing hunger.
“You have to do something in terms of international law. They (ANC delegation) want to discuss with Zimbabwe their concerns. Yes, because Zimbabwe is saying there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, but there is a Zimbabwe crisis in South Africa,” she said.
Speaking to the media on arrival Tuesday evening, Magashule said they were yet to decide on who else to meet.
“We are going to meet Zanu PF as the ANC and we will engage and we will take it from there. There are many others who would like to meet us. We are still going to decide ourselves but obviously, we will meet whoever we have to meet, but our meeting is for Zanu PF now,” he said.
Political commentator, Alexander Rusero said the meeting was not a mediation process because it intended to include the ruling party only.
“If they want to get a clear picture of what is manifesting in Zimbabwe it would be prudent if they meet all parties but, what is important is to set the record straight to the people that this is not a mediation exercise.
“Mediation is when you bring parties together and you start the process of making them talk and understand each other. What we are at this stage is the ANC government engaging in some form of fact finding mission where they want to get all sides of the story.
“So there is nothing much to write home about this visit because at the end of the day Zanu PF is going to continue to be the party in power.
“It is not going to rectify the challenges that the Zimbabwean economy faces. It is not going to restore the much anticipated confidence within the Zimbabwean economy,” Rusero said.