BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
ZANU PF yesterday threw down the gauntlet and ordered South Africa to stop mediating in the Zimbabwean crisis after being angered by the frank talk from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s six-member mediation team which was in Harare on Wednesday.
After a closed-door meeting which ended in the evening, Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu told the local media that the discussions were cordial, but his African National Congress (ANC) counterparts reserved their comments only to drop the bombshell on landing in Pretoria, describing the situation in Zimbabwe as dire.
The team, led by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, indicated that it would soon fly back to Harare for more consultations with other stakeholders such as the opposition, civic society and church.
But Chinamasa yesterday pulled a surprise, slamming the door on Ramaphosa’s envoys, declaring that “South Africa has no mediatory role to play in Zimbabwe”.
“We are an independent sovereign country. We agreed in our meeting that we are equal sovereign States. South Africa has no mediatory role to play in Zimbabwe. We know that the South African government is controlled by white men. We agreed that we should strengthen the integration of our region and of our economy. It will take time but we will get there.”
He said the only discussion they would entertain from ANC would be centred on identifying threats between the two liberation movements and their regional peers.
“Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa. We are able to identify the threats between the two parties and the rest of the liberation movements in our region. We work towards putting regional integration first on the agenda. Our meetings going forward will be on growing our economies.”
Chinamasa added that Zimbabwe has not received any financial aid or economic assistance from South Africa and Zanu PF could not understand why Ramaphosa wanted to intervene in the Harare crisis.
“Zimbabwe has never received money from South Africa,” the former Finance minister said. “We have never received money from South Africa apartheid government or post-apartheid government, no economic assistance. Why would they want to stand by us now when they have not assisted us before? At our request, we have only received diplomatic assistance from South Africa.”
He also ruled out talks involving Ramaphosa’s team and local opposition leaders.
But, chairperson of ANC’s international relations committee Lindiwe Zulu told South African media that they would arrange a meeting with Zimbabwe’s opposition, civic society and other stakeholders to discuss the crisis in the country.
“The good thing is that there is a full agreement that we had to make up with the other parties,” Zulu told South African talk radio 702.
“It is just that the time wasn’t also enabling us to meet them, we spent the whole day more than we thought we would from morning to evening just party-to-party engagements.
“We agreed also to meet with other political parties and there is nothing going to stop us. Even at the Press briefing, our secretary-general Ace Magashule indicated to the Press that we are going to go back and meet with other political parties.”
She added they would also make time for United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols.
But Chinamasa rubbished the arrangement. “We don’t want complaints from anyone, even the US ambassador. We are grateful to our security forces; it is a warning that our security forces will defend this country.”
He accused the opposition MDC Alliance of fuelling unrest in the country to justify its “crisis” narrative.