Ramaphosa appoints special envoys for Zimbabwe crisis

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SA-based Zimbabweans protest outside the Zimbabwean Cape Town Consulate.
SA-based Zimbabweans protest outside the Zimbabwean Cape Town Consulate.
Tariro Washinyira, GroundUp
  • The president has appointed two special envoys to Zimbabwe.
  • The two envoys are expected to find ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe.
  • They will leave as soon as arrangements are made.


President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed former Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete and former Safety and Security Minister Sydney Mufamadi as special envoys to Zimbabwe.

With the crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe, their job will be to see how South Africa can assist its neighbouring country.

Mbete and Mufamadi are expected to leave as soon as arrangements have been made.

It follows widespread alarm over the arrests of journalists and a clampdown by security forces in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched a crackdown on planned nationwide protests on 31 July to highlight complaints over the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic and its assistance to the poor.

READ | Zim journalist speaks out against government

Activists have also allegedly been abducted and there is rising alarm over reports of human rights abuses.

According to the Herald in Zimbabwe, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana, has said the country is at the mercy of detractors trying to create a "non-existent crisis".

He said the country is "peaceful". 

Rule of law

"Zimbabwe, today, is peaceful and all citizens are free to go about their business as usual, within boundaries set by the lockdown regulations. His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa's Second Republic believes in upholding the rule of law and freedom of speech.

"Indeed, it is the freedom of speech that is being unfortunately abused by those who seek to push a sinister political agenda," he reportedly said.

Ramaphosa's spokesperson Tyrone Seale said the special envoys are expected to "engage the Government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe".

South Africa has previously been criticised for turning a blind eye to problems in Zimbabwe for the sake of old fraternal ties with former head of state, Robert Mugabe. 

The two countries have a deep connection, with many Zimbabwean nationals working in South Africa.

Zimbabwe also assisted ANC soldiers in exile as they strategised re-entry to South Africa during their campaign to topple the apartheid government. 

- Compiled by Jenni Evans

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