South Africa’s ruling party dispatched a delegation to Zimbabwe to help mediate an end to the nation’s escalating economic and political crisis.
The team, led by African National Congress Secretary-General Ace Magashule, will meet officials from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
The visit comes after an August 10 meeting between the ANC and Zanu-PF failed to yield any progress when Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said there was nothing to discuss and denied his country is in crisis. Zanu-PF reiterated that position on Tuesday.
“This visit is taking place against the backdrop of false claims of a nation in crisis,” it said in a statement. “Zanu-PF will take the opportunity to share the reality on the ground in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the region candidly and frankly.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said his country, the region’s richest, is prepared to help Zimbabwe politically and economically, but that Zimbabwe must accept the help. It’s facing shortages of medicine, food and water, its currency has collapsed and annual inflation is running at 837%. Aid agencies estimate that 60% of Zimbabweans will need help finding food by April 2021.
The opposition MDC accuses the Zanu-PF government of escalating abductions, torture and the wrongful imprisonment of government critics. The larger of two factions of the MDC said Monday it also expects to meet the South Africans, though Zanu-PF ruled that out.
“This is a meeting between the Zanu-PF delegation and the ANC delegation only,” the party said.
South Africa last mediated a political dispute in Zimbabwe in 2008, when then-President Thabo Mbeki brokered a deal that forced Zanu-PF into a government of national unity with the MDC. The two parties shared power uneasily until 2013, when Zanu-PF secured a majority in elections the MDC said were flawed.