Maimane requests formal meeting with Zimbabwean president

2019-01-31 15:08
Mmusi Maimane. (Deon Raath, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

Mmusi Maimane. (Deon Raath, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

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Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane has requested a formal meeting with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, following "weeks of relentless political instability" in the country.

Maimane was outside the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria on Thursday, where he also handed over a formal letter for the attention of Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe was plunged into crisis following the announcement of a massive fuel hike. Preliminary reports have shown that at least 78 people have been shot with live ammunition.

"As chairperson of the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC), which represents opposition parties from the SADC region, I have a duty to speak up on behalf of our member parties, and to speak out against any injustice in the region.

"The disturbing reports of beatings, arrests and other threats to hard-won democratic freedoms in Zimbabwe compels me to act," Maimane said.

He said he would travel to Harare next week.

Maimane said they were at the embassy to begin the process of ensuring that peace and stability were restored in Zimbabwe "and to see her people safe from violence and intimidation".

"Following weeks of relentless political instability and violence, with no end in sight, we are compelled to act on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe and the SADC region," he said.

Maimane said the situation in Zimbabwe "is dire".

Ramaphosa 'sitting on his hands'

"Widespread civilian suppression, military-led violence, and bloodshed has ensued - with 100s arrested and detained by government authorities," he said.

He accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of "sitting on his hands" and refusing to take action while assault, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment of citizens continued in the neighbouring Zimbabwe. 

Maimane was joined by members of the Zimbabwean parliament who are in exile in SA after they fled their country.

"Their stories are our stories, and as democrats who stand for constitutional democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of basic human rights. We must stand in solidarity with them and make our voices heard. The situation cannot continue any longer," he said.

He said in the absence of any meaningful intervention, by either the South African government or regional African bodies such as SADC and the AU, "I have no choice but to intervene in an effort to help find a peaceful resolution".

Maimane said his intervention formed part of a fact-finding mission that he would be leading to Zimbabwe next week. 

"We want to see the return of all the individual rights enshrined in your constitution."

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Read more on:    mmusi mai­mane  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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