'It was a waste of jet fuel' - Zimbabwean journalist on Ramaphosa's special envoys

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  • A Zimbabwean journalist says a trip by special envoys from South Africa was a waste of time as "key stakeholders" were overlooked.
  • Zimbabwe has been rocked by protesting amid growing reports of human rights violations.
  • The envoys are expected to brief President Cyril Ramaphosa later this week.

A trip by South African envoys to Zimbabwe has been described as a "waste of jet fuel".

A Zimbabwean journalist on the ground, who has been sought by police, said the engagement was confined to the head of state, while key stakeholders, including journalists, activists and opposition party members, were allegedly ignored.

"If you are going to embark on a fact-finding mission, it is pointless to go to the government but not the victims; they must visit Tawanda, myself, Hopewell and many others," journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu told News24 on Wednesday.

READ | Ramamphosa's envoy snub Zim opposition parties

"There is a lot of people that went through the abuse, meeting in an office to hear denials is not efficient enough - if they are serious about what is happening on the ground, they cannot be meeting in offices," he added.

Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Sydney Mufamadi and former National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete as special envoys to Zimbabwe. 

According to the presidency - in a statement on 6 August 2020 - the special envoys were expected to "engage the government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe".

In a statement on Monday, the MDC Alliance said it was on standby to meet with the special envoys following a formal request that the party be available for a meeting. 

Mufamadi and Mbete, however, left without honouring meetings with the main opposition party MDC's two factions, the MDC-T and the MDC Alliance.

Mathuthu and investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono recently collaborated on a story that exposed alleged Covid-19 corruption in Zimbabwe.

Accused

Shortly after these revelations, Chin'ono was arrested in his home in the country's capital, Harare. He was accused of inciting Zimbabweans to join a planned anti-government protest during the coronavirus outbreak, News24 previously reported.

Mathuthu was not at his home in Bulawayo when it was raided.

His sister, however, was arrested, while his nephew, Tawanda Muchehiwa, a second year journalism student, was allegedly abducted and beaten by "third forces". 

READ | 'Regime lashes out whenever there's a threat to their hold on power' - Zimbabwean journalist alleges

The injuries suffered by Muchehiwa landed him in hospital. Chin'ono, whose plight has received international attention, was recently denied bail.

According to Mathuthu, none of the journalists and activists who were "relevant stakeholders" on what was unfolding on the ground were afforded the opportunity to engage Ramaphosa's envoy.

"There is a huge number of people who wanted to make representations - that chance has been denied. It was a waste of jet fuel," he said.

News24 could not immediately reach Chin'ono's legal team for comment.

Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale told News24 on Tuesday that the envoys would brief Ramaphosa later this week and that "any comment will follow that interaction".

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