President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Dr. Sydney Mufamadi and Baleka Mbete as his Special Envoys to Zimbabwe, following recent reports of difficulties that the Republic of Zimbabwe is experiencing.

Last week, some citizens took to the streets to protest against corruption. They were also calling for the government to work on improving the economic situation in the country.

A number of demonstrators, including journalists and opposition party members, have been detained.

In a statement, the Presidency says the Special Envoys are expected to engage with the Zimbabwe government and relevant stakeholders to identify ways in which South Africa can assist the country.

“The President’s Special Envoys will leave for Zimbabwe as soon as all the arrangements are made,” the statement notes.

The Envoys will depart as soon as travel arrangements are confirmed. South Africa had been criticised by many for not publicly commenting on the situation in the neighbouring country.

But on Thursday, the government said that International Relations Minister, Naledi Pandor, has been in communication with her counterpart regarding the developments.

AU urged to intervene

Earlier on Thursday, Zimbabwe’s High Court dismissed investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono’s appeal for bail. The journalist was arrested last month and charged with inciting public violence relating to last week’s protests.

This is a move that has been labeled vindictive by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

SABC’s Sherwin Bryce -Peas reports on the reaction to the court’s decision: 

 

The committee has also written to President Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union (AU), urging him to make the country adhere to the principles of the AU.

They refer to the declaration of people’s principles on freedom of expression and access to information in Africa which was adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s rights within the African Union.

The committee has received confirmation of receipt of the letter by Ramaphosa’s office.

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights says it’s closely monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe. The Commission says there’s no basis for arbitrary deprivation of liberty or torture of citizens.

Chairperson of the AU human rights body, Solomon Dersso spoke to our correspondent Coletta Wanjohi in Addis Ababa: 

In an interview with the SABC earlier, African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Ace Magashule said   President Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as AU chair is in communication with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa over the human rights crisis in that country.

Magashule said as the governing party, they are also conducting discussions with their Zimbabwean counterparts.  “President Ramaphosa as the leader of AU is in touch with President Mnangagwa and I think we should leave them and give them their space. And of course, we have talked to the Zimbabweans that are exiled in the country. They’ve raised their concerns and we are trying to facilitate discussions between them and ZANU-PF and the leadership of Zimbabwe.”

Meanwhile, the government has denied reports of human rights violations:

Thousands could flee to neighbouring states

Zimbabwe’s crackdowns could see thousands fleeing to neighbouring states. Zimbabwe’s cabinet has approved recommendations for legislation and a code of conduct to be put in place to regulate the operations and conduct of all political parties, and that campaigning against one’s country shall be legislated at law and criminalised.

Founder and Editor of ZimEye say the latest round of crackdowns will see thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing to neighbouring states: