President Robert Mugabe must step down so that free and fair elections can be held immediately‚ Mmusi Maimane‚ leader of South Africa’s official opposition Democratic Alliance‚ said on Wednesday — as he urged Pretoria to dump its quiet diplomacy approach towards its near neighbour.
“The current instability in Zimbabwe must be a cause for concern for all African countries who stand for democracy on the continent‚” he said.
The Zimbabwean Defence Force has moved into the country’s capital‚ Harare‚ to “target criminals” aligned to President Mugabe.
This follows Mugabe’s decision to fire his Vice-President‚ Emmerson Mnangagwa‚ last week.
Maimane said these actions are bringing to the surface the deep-seated factionalism within the ruling Zanu-PF.
“(We) call for fresh elections to be held in Zimbabwe as soon as practically possible‚ and for Robert Mugabe to immediately resign as President of Zimbabwe. . . True democracy is adhering to the will of the people‚ not the internal politics and arrangements of liberation movements.
“In addition to this‚ we call on the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation‚ Maite Nkoana-Mashabane‚ to provide our country with an urgent briefing on the nature and extent of the crisis in Zimbabwe‚ including what action our government will take. South Africa cannot continue with its ‘quiet diplomacy’ while the people of Zimbabwe suffer. We must engage with the goal of finding a solution which does not open the door for another dictator to take the reins.”
Maimane said the military’s action today had its roots in the 2008 election in Zimbabwe‚ when Mugabe clung to power despite many observers believing he had lost to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The DA leader said the South African government‚ under then President Thabo Mbeki‚ had failed “to stand up for democracy and enforce the results of the 2008 election“.
“Allowing Mr Mugabe to remain in office even after losing an election clearly sowed the seeds for what we are seeing today.”