Zim opposition begs Cyril to intervene in deadly crisis
SA is the big brother of SADC, it cannot pretend to be otherwise, says MDC deputy national chair Tendai Biti
Zimbabwean opposition official and former finance minister Tendai Biti has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the country’s unfolding economic and political crisis.
The country went into a violent shutdown after the price of fuel was raised by more than 100% over the weekend: a staggering $3.11 per litre for diesel, and $3.33 per litre for petrol.
The price of petrol in Zimbabwe is now ranked as the highest in the world, plummeting the country’s already devastated economy into further crisis and sparking looting and violence, some of which has allegedly been committed by the country’s military.
“SA is the biggest country in the SADC [Southern African Development Community] region. It is the big brother of SADC. It cannot pretend to be otherwise.
“I don’t know how many dead bodies SADC wants to see before they will move on what is clearly a crisis. The lives of African people matter, and they should matter to SADC,” Biti told Times Select on Tuesday.
Biti is the deputy national chairperson of the Movement for Democratic Change opposition party, which the Zimbabwe government has blamed for the violence committed during the shutdown protests.
The MDC brought an unsuccessful court challenge to the outcome of Zimbabwe’s general elections in July last year, that were won by Zanu-PF, the party formerly led by ousted president Robert Mugabe. It maintains the elections were rigged, while the Zimbabwe government insists they were legitimate.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. He told state-owned RIA Novosti news agency, before that meeting, that he would ask for Russian loans. Mnangagwa did not say how much his country wanted to borrow, but said Zimbabwe wanted to see Russian companies explore for gas and oil in the country. He was also quoted as saying Zimbabwe may need Russian help in modernising its army in the future.
Mnangagwa is scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next week to encourage international investment.
“The bottom line is that we are being led by a rogue regime, following a sham election. Zimbabwe is in the midst of a crisis of legitimacy … and SA President Cyril Ramaphosa and his fellow SADC member presidents must show leadership here,” Biti said.
“This is not a foreign affairs issue for SA, it is a domestic one. Because the consequences of this crisis imploding further will be directly visited on SA.”
Ramaphosa met with Nelson Chamisa, the Movement for Democratic Change leader, just over two weeks ago.
Chamisa said he had sought Ramaphosa’s help in addressing Zimbabwe’s economic crisis, which is the worst experienced by the embattled country in the past decade, by mediating talks with Mnangagwa.
While Chamisa posted about the meeting on Twitter, the presidency did not issue any statement about it. The presidency also declined to comment on calls for Ramaphosa and SADC to force the Zimbabwean government to engage in mediation to resolve the crisis, referring all queries to the department of international relations.
Neither the department nor SADC responded to requests for comment.