by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE somewhat rushed condemnation of alleged human rights abuses in neighbouring Zimbabwe highlights the double standards in South Africa, which has lost moral authority to lecture Zimbabwe.
This follows years of xenophobic attacks and most recently the killing of several citizens by the military in South Africa during the lockdown against the worst outbreak of coronavirus in Africa.
South Africa’s ruling African Congress (ANC), under whose watch these crimes have occurred, condemned what it called the state-sponsored violence against Zimbabwean citizens following the illegal 31st July demonstrations organized by anti-government critics and the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-A).
Ace Magashule, the controversy-marred secretary general of the ANC, claimed the so-called state repression would have consequences for South Africa.
In addition, ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the head of state, has appointed a team of envoys to be deployed to Harare on fact-finding mission.
Former Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, and ex-Safety and Security Minister, Sydney Mufamadi, are the special envoys to Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean government has hit back at Magashule, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries whose relations are largely cordial.
Tafadzwa Mugwadi, ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) spokesperson, accused Magashule’s party and country of double standards, particularly the violations by uniformed forces during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We have seen on social media South African soldiers beating up people ruthlessly using fists and sjamboks while in some regrettable circumstances, we have seen them spraying rubber bullets on their citizens,” Mugwadi said.
He said this had resulted in serious injuries and deaths.
At least eight citizens have died at the hands of the police and soldiers.
“ZANU-PF has not uttered a word in public despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa being the Chair of the SADC Troika on Peace and Defence,” Mugwadi said.
The SADC (Southern African Development Community) Organ on Politics Defence and Security is responsible for promoting peace and security in the regional bloc.
“ZANU-PF PF takes exception to the utterances that have been attributed to Cde Magashule, where he appeared hoodwinked by those seeking to destabilise Zimbabwe through peddling social media falsehoods,” Mugwadi said.
“As a revolutionary sister party (ANC), it has never been in our tradition to censure a fellow revolutionary movement or leaders using megaphone approaches, more so when such utterances are misinformed and baseless to say the least.”
Mugwadi said Zimbabwe always respected its neighbours and would not directly interfere in matters relating to the sovereignty of other nations.
“Honestly, for the ANC or Magashule to rely on a fortune-seeking organisation like Tajamuka (rebellion) or faceless social media posts is as disturbing as it is shocking.”
He also condemned the recurrent xenophobic violence, which last week reared its ugly head again in Thokoza, east of Johannesburg.
“We have seen our people suffering from xenophobic attacks with some ANC leaders spreading hostile messages that are xenophobic but we have sought to address that diplomatically. We deserve respect for once,” Mugwadi said.
The ANC-led government is accused of complicity in xenophobia as perpetrators always emerge scot-free.
South Africa currently chairs the African Union (AU) but the xenophobic violence has tainted its legacy.
Nick Mangwana, the Zimbabwean government spokesperson, dismissed claims of a crisis in the country.
“To set the record straight, there is no crisis or implosion in Zimbabwe. Neither has there been any abduction or ‘war’ on citizens,” he said.
“Like any other country in the world, Zimbabwe has been enforcing Covid-19 regulations intended to safeguard and protect the lives of all citizens. Where necessary, the law has been fairly applied,” Mangwana said.
In another twist, members of a ZANU-PF faction called G-40, most seeking refuge in South Africa, are allegedly behind the protests in Zimbabwe.
Magashule was recently pictured with these factionalists, including Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwawo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Walter Mzembi.
Another member, Jonathan Moyo, who is presently in exile in Kenya, is widely believed to have hatched the disinformation campaign against Zimbabwe.
“Government calls upon its counterparts in the region (SADC) and internationally not to lose perspective that Zimbabwe has for long been suffering efforts to destabilise it by external forces (United States and European Union) that have a bone to chew with the country since the historic land reform programme,” Mangwana said.
“These efforts have in the past taken many forms from attempted insurgency, to the current organised smear campaign using blatantly false claims. Such smear campaigns are not unique to Zimbabwe and have been employed in other countries over the years,” Mangwana added.
Last week, leader of the South African opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also interfered in Zimbabwe’s domestic issues as they called on the closure of the Zimbabwe Embassy in South Africa, in opposition to plans by Zimbabwe to compensate white farmers driven off lands by the government of ex-president, Robert Mugabe (deceased).
– CAJ News