After pressure has been put on South Africa’s shoulders to do something about the crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced he has appointed two envoys to assess how South Africa can help.
The president’s office announced on Thursday that former Cabinet minister Sydney Mufamadi and former parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete would “engage the Government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe”.
The statement added that the pair is expected leave for Zimbabwe as soon as all arrangements are made. Ramaphosa’s decision to engage comes after a number of activists and anti-government protesters have been rounded up, beaten and arrested over the past week in what is said to be a brutal government crackdown in Zimbabwe.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is blaming “dark foreign forces working with rogue Zimbabweans” for the unrest.
Nearly three weeks ago, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested, and government critics said his prosecution was political. Chin’ono played a prominent role in exposing alleged corruption surrounding the granting of contracts to Mnangagwa’s son to provide the government with supplies to fight the Corona-19 pandemic.
Defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said she’s stunned that Chin’ono was denied bail. She said he was entitled to his freedom under the Constitution. Mtetwa told reporters outside the High Court that those who are guilty of corruption are walking the streets while the innocent ones are being exposed to COVID-19 in the prisons.