Zimbabweans ‘must take responsibility’ – SA

SOUTH AFRICA's International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane last week criticised Zimbabweans and the leadership of the country for continuing to blame SA for their problems

Ms Nkoana-Mashabane was speaking at a University of Pretoria lecture on the role that SA will play during its two-year term as a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

The minister’s statement signals the South African government’s frustration in persuading the political adversaries in Zimbabwe to make the government of national unity work.

“I think we are going to move faster, quicker and more democratic the day we hold Zimbabweans responsible for the decisions they take,” she said.

The minister said she was surprised to learn through media reports on her return from New York on Thursday that the leaders of Zanu (PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were still posturing while making the government of national unity work. She chastised the leaders of both parties for failing to resolve their differences.

She also said it was premature for the leadership to insist on holding elections next year without first concluding a new constitution as required by the political agreement they made.

“The leadership has agreed that there were certain things that they would do before going to the next elections … whether they have concluded their constitution or not … they now want to go for elections,” she said.

“We will continue on insisting on Zimbabweans to implement their own political agreement to the letter and spirit … as and when we get an opportunity we will continue urging the leadership of Zimbabwe to put the plight and well-being of the people first.”

The MDC is reportedly against certain appointments President Robert Mugabe has made in the public and diplomatic services without consulting key members of the unity government.

This prompted President Jacob Zuma last week to send his mediation team led by his political adviser Charles Nqakula to Zimbabwe to quell the rising tension in the government.

However, it is reported that Mr Mugabe refused to meet with Mr Nqakula and his team as they had apparently failed to secure an appointment prior to their departure to Zimbabwe.

SA brokered a diplomatic solution in 2008 that saw Zanu (PF) and the MDC form a government of national unity through a pact known as the Global Political Agreement.

SA has also, through the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, managed the African Renaissance Fund, which gave the Zimbabwean government a grant of R300m in the 2008- 09 financial year. The grant aimed to enhance food security and revive Zimbabwe’s waning agriculture after its disastrous economic policy and land reform processes.

On a recent visit to SA two weeks ago, Botswana’s President Ian Khama joined regional leaders in urging the international community to lift sanctions against the Zanu (PF) leadership to allow for the government of national unity to function. -Business Day