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Sowetan newspaper says ANC stance on Zimbabwe putting South Africa in jeopardy

The decision by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and his African National Congress (ANC) party to endorse the recently held elections in Zimbabwe which were discredited by international observers, has been described by the Sowetan newspaper as a move that is likely to put South Africa in jeopardy.

Zimbabwe’s 2023 plebiscite which saw the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa winning with 52,6% was dismissed by almost all observers as not free and fair.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission led by Nevers Mumba from Zambia said the plebiscite fell short of the requirements of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the region.

But Ramaphosa and the ANC represented by its Secretary General Fikile Mbalula went all the way to congratulate Mnangagwa before they attended his inauguration in Harare on Monday.

Democratic Republic of Congo leader Felix Tshisekedi and Mozambique’s Felix Nyusi, who are also close allies of Mnangagwa and the Zanu-PF party also attended the inauguration.

South Africa has more than 1 million Zimbabweans who fled their country due to the socio-economic and political crisis under the Zanu-PF regime.

An opinion carried by the Sowetan newspaper on Wednesday articulated that the ANC’s move to support Mnangagwa’s controversial win would worsen the situation in Zimbabwe.

“Ramaphosa was in Harare for the swearing-in ceremony of Mnangagwa for another five-year term as president.

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“The Crocodile, as our neighbouring statesman is known, ‘won’ an election held last month but the entire charade has been derided all-round for the sham it was. Even the usually pliant Southern African Development Community observer team gave the thumbs down,” the newspaper argued.

“Only Ramaphosa and his ANC gave a loud approval while the rest of the leaders in the region tellingly kept quiet. Well, silence in the face of a skewed fight in which the weak is being bludgeoned mercilessly, is an endorsement of the evil perpetuated.

“The ANC is irrationally wedded to Struggle inter-party loyalties that no longer serve the greater good of the nation, and the entire region.

“But the reality on the ground is a totally different kettle of fish, which requires someone to clean up the mess. Cue in Ramaphosa’s minister of home affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who is often left holding the baby.”

The newspaper further stated that the illegal immigration of “semi-skilled” Zimbabweans into South Africa is likely to continue at unprecedented levels leading to xenophobic violence.

“In the meantime, there’s no stemming the human tidal wave gushing past Limpopo, looking for a slice of a cake that is fast shrinking, even for locals. Employment figures in SA make for a sorry reading, even for highly skilled job seekers stand little chance of employment.

“But the vast majority of those scaling the wall into SA are semi-skilled and only add to the competition for menial jobs that will only increase the tension between competitors and fuel resentment.

“It will become worse still leading into elections next year as politicians seeking votes will recklessly pour petrol into the fire.

“The ambivalence and paradox of our government’s policy towards Zimbabwe cannot go on like this unless SA doesn’t care for the consequences that have previously included matters getting out of control leading to xenophobic violence,” read the editorial.