Sisulu lashes out at Zim's heavy hand

A group protests near a burning barricade on a road leading to Harare. Last week, South Africa condemned Zimbabwe’s heavy-handed response to the recent fuel price increase protests. Picture: Reuters
A group protests near a burning barricade on a road leading to Harare. Last week, South Africa condemned Zimbabwe’s heavy-handed response to the recent fuel price increase protests. Picture: Reuters

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has lashed out at the Zimbabwean government’s “heavy-handed” approach in its crackdown on protesters.

At least a dozen protesters lost their lives and scores were arrested as police fired live ammunition and tear gas during clashes over the rising cost of living and a hike in the price of petrol.

“We have expressed our concerns about the levels of violence and how [the police] deal with any challenges on the streets. In our press briefings every time we have talked about Zimbabwe, we have mentioned the fact that we are unhappy. It only brings negativity to a country that needs a lot of support. They have acknowledged that they have been heavy-handed,” Sisulu said at the Taj Palace hotel in New Delhi, India, on Friday.

However, it seems that South Africa is still determined to assist Zimbabwe get back on its feet.

“We have promised them we will do whatever is in our power, within our means of course, to [assist them]. They have resources that Africa can benefit from. We have engaged with Zimbabwe and we are determined to assist the country out of its present problem,” Sisulu stated.

She continued: “Those sanctions that were put on Zimbabwe at the time of former president [Robert] Mugabe have not been lifted and they do not help the economy of Zimbabwe. When President [Emmerson] Mnangagwa got into power, one of the first things he said was that Zimbabwe was open for business. But for as long as there are sanctions on Zimbabwe it makes it difficult for them to raise the necessary money for them to recover from the losses they’ve had.”

Sisulu also talked about further afield on the continent than South Africa’s immediate neighbour.

“We are glad that the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC] is back on its feet. We can’t hold some of our countries back simply because of preconceived ideas about us by other countries.”

The ANC warned this week that unless the situation in Zimbabwe and the DRC is attended to quickly and effectively, an increase in economic and political refugees is inevitable.

“We therefore believe that it is in the best interest of the two countries and their neighbours, including South Africa, to explore all avenues to ensure that the situations in the DRC and Zimbabwe are stabilised as soon as possible,” Sisulu said.

South Africa has vowed that it will use its seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council to restructure and transform the council.

Sisulu said: “The first objective, we have said over and over again, is that we want to have restructuring and transformation of the Security Council. We can’t have regions as big as Africa not represented on a permanent basis. We want reforms. We believe that every region needs to have a permanent representative.”

She believes that most of the problems that the security council deals with concern Africa.

“It only makes sense that Africa should have a permanent seat to be able to deal with its own problems.”

South Africa officially resumed its seat as non-permanent member of the Security Council earlier this month. Its term ends next year.

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