Soldiers patrol during protests on a road leading to Harare, Zimbabwe, during protests. Picture: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

Johannesburg - Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has cut short his visit to Europe to return to his embattled country, it emerged on Sunday.

In a message posted on his Twitter account on Sunday afternoon, Mnangagwa said, "In light of the economic situation I will be returning home after a highly productive week of bilateral trade and investment meetings. We will be ably represented in Davos by Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube. The first priority is to get Zimbabwe calm, stable, and working again."

Earlier on Sunday, the Democratic Alliance threatened to approach the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider a preliminary investigation into human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

The DA urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to re-consider his "Quiet Diplomacy 2.0" on Zimbabwe and intervene directly to "stop the ongoing human rights violations by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government", DA spokesman Stevens Mokgalapa said in a statement.

"If Rampahosa fails to intervene and advise Mnangagwa to stop the military clampdown on civilians, the DA will be left with no option but to approach the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider a preliminary investigation into these violations as outlined in the Rome Statute."

The ICC’s office of the prosecutor was empowered by the Rome Statute to “...determine whether there is sufficient evidence of crimes of sufficient gravity falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction, whether there are genuine national proceedings, and whether opening an investigation would serve the interests of justice and of the victims”.

The DA strongly believed that the current human rights crisis in Zimbabwe was of sufficient gravity to warrant an ICC investigation, because, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, at least 12 people had been killed, 78 shot at, and 240 faced "assault, torture, inhumane, and degrading treatment”. 

"President Rampahosa is faced with an easy choice - either he intervenes to stop civilian abuse by the military in Zimbabwe or his government will be one of the parties that will answer to the ICC on why they failed to act to stop the human rights violations," Mokgalapa said.

African News Agency (ANA)