Mnangagwa calls for peace as violence escalates in South Africa

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He  has called for an end to protests and looting in South Africa.

Photo credit: AFP

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for an end to protests and looting in South Africa amid fears that Harare’s economy will suffer spill-over effects from the unrest in South Africa.

President Mnangagwa told a meeting of the ruling Zanu PF’s top decision-making body, the politburo, on Wednesday that the violence that followed the incarceration of former South African president Jacob Zuma was disturbing.

“In the case of South Africa, we wish the current challenges facing our brothers and sisters in that country be resolved soon,” he said.

Last year Zimbabwe and South Africa were caught in a diplomatic tiff after Pretoria publicly criticised the way President Mnangagwa’s government handled anti-corruption protests in his country.

South Africa’s ruling party ANC dispatched a delegation to Harare to meet Zanu PF over the arrests and torture of the activists behind the July 31, 2020 protests that were brutally put down by the military.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also sent envoys to meet all political players in Zimbabwe, but they were blocked from meeting the opposition by President Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwean government officials at the time accused the ANC of interfering in their country’s internal affairs.

Samuel Mumbengegwi, Zanu PF secretary for external affairs, on Wednesday told journalists in Harare that the ruling party had discussed the unfolding crisis in South Africa and other neighbouring countries where there were disturbances.

“The situations in South Africa, Mozambique and Eswatini are troubling,” Mr Mumbengegwi said.

“We, in the region, should know that the best way to deal with situations is dialogue and finding each other. Violence is not the way. We as Zanu PF call for calm and dialogue in the resolution of difficulties that may arise in our region. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has put in place mechanisms in which we can assist sister countries in difficult situations, and they should make use of them,” he added. 

Mozambique is battling an Islamic insurgency in its northern province of Cabo Delgado while Eswatini was recently rocked by protests over King Mswati III’s iron fist rule.

Zimbabwe’s economy is heavily reliant on South Africa for raw materials and the continued unrest is likely to trigger serious shortages in the coming weeks.

South Africa’s is also home to over a million Zimbabwean economic refugees.