Political hostility dogs Zimbabwe, says Pandor
Johannesburg - International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor has warned that resolving Zimbabwe’s socio-economic crisis will remain a pipe dream if political hostility remains the priority of parties in that country.
Pandor yesterday addressed a symposium themed “The best path to a prosperous Zimbabwe”, held at Unisa.
She said the troubled southern African nation was engulfed by intractable political divisions, which made external assistance difficult.
“Political formations in Zimbabwe remain at loggerheads and have apparent deep antipathy towards each other, which makes joint decision-making and planning extremely difficult.”
She added: “It seems clear that even as we support the call for an end to economic sanctions, the political dynamics that we observe are inextricably linked to the economic solutions, and thus should be confronted simultaneously.”
Pandor said Zimbabweans would, however, have to lead the process of eradicating challenges in their country.
“We would be assisted in playing a positive role if there was a shared notion in Zimbabwe of what had to be done. This is important for us because while we work very closely with the government of Zimbabwe, it would be difficult for us to be seen as only working with the government,” she said.
Zimbabwe, led by its late president Robert Mugabe from independence in 1980 until he was forced to resign in 2017, has been grappling with an economic crisis over the years which has been worsened by sanctions imposed by the US and EU, who cite land seizures and human rights violations as reasons.
Pandor said the symposium, which included academic experts and diplomats, was aimed at giving practical substance to the resolution by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to campaign for an end to sanctions against Zimbabwe.
She maintained that South Africa had been among the beneficiaries of the loss of key skills by Zimbabwe, as sanctions and worsening living conditions had forced many people to flee to this country.
“Sometimes I shudder when I think what would happen if our maths and science teachers, many of whom come from Zimbabwe, were to leave South African schools,” she said.
Pandor also stressed that Zimbabweans had to jointly indicate that they needed the support being offered by those who forged solidarity with the nation.
“We need to be provided with a path indicating that as we act to provide support, all the parties and groups in Zimbabwe are at one that support must be brought in,” Pandor said.
Unisa principal and vice-chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya hailed Zimbabwe for its outstanding improvements in literacy rates since independence.