President Cyril Ramaphosa was warmly welcomed by Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he touched down in Harare yesterday.
“It is an honour to welcome President Cyril Ramaphosa to Zimbabwe. The strength and depth of our relationship is the epitome of true brotherhood, of a common people with a shared past and destiny. You are a key and true ally,” Mnangagwa said.
Ramaphosa and Minister for International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu were in Harare as part of the 3rd Bi-National Commission Summit between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“Our fortunes remain bound together,” Ramaphosa said. “We must employ the same resolve with which we fought the scourge of apartheid to combat the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality. We must use the Bi-National Commission mechanism to consolidate and deepen our bilateral relations.”
The two leaders agreed that their trade and finance ministers would work together to expand investment.
Finance options were also explored in terms of a facility from South African private banks to the Zimbabwe private sector and guaranteed by the South African government and counter guarantee by the government of Zimbabwe.
South Africa will also work with Zimbabwe on economic reform and clearing Zimbabwe’s debt. The Gift of the Givers used the opportunity of Ramaphosa’s visit to deliver a major humanitarian donation that included 3000 food parcels, 100000 water purification sachets, 2000 stationery packs, books, 30 wheelchairs, rice, sugar and cooking oil.
As the Bi-National Commission got under way, Human Rights Watch released a statement and video documenting the excessive and disproportionate force Zimbabwe security forces used to crush nationwide protests from January 14 to 16 and in their aftermath.
“There is irrefutable evidence that Zimbabwe security forces carried out horrific abuses, including killings, torture and rape, during and since the January protests,” said Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“Ramaphosa and other regional leaders should press Zimbabwe to halt security forces’ abuses and individually prosecute and punish those responsible. Prosecution and accountability for past and ongoing abuses will help end impunity and vicious cycles of violence in Zimbabwe.”
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights reported that police and army personnel carried out indiscriminate door-to-door raids, forcibly entering homes by breaking doors and windows.
Human Rights Watch found that the security forces rounded up and detained hundreds of people, many of whom were brought before the courts on charges of public violence and criminal nuisance, most of whom remain in detention.
Human Rights Watch has reported that the Zimbabwe security forces appeared to use the crackdown to commit numerous cases of rape.
Eight women said they were raped by uniformed and armed soldiers and police. A 46-year-old woman said nine armed men, six in army uniform, came to her house in Epworth on January 15 and two soldiers raped her in front of her teenage son. At the local police station, the police refused to record her complaint, telling her, “these things are happening all over the country, so we cannot receive your report or open a police case docket.”
The Zimbabwe Peace Project were also concerned about the re-emergence of torture bases in Zimbabwe, allegedly run by Zanu-PF to target opponents of the government of Mnangagwa.