Zimbabwe’s police beat up and dispersed supporters of the main opposition party in the capital, Harare, Wednesday, even after their leader expressed willingness to dialogue with the president.
The Movement for Democratic Change leader, Mr Nelson Chamisa, had on Tuesday said he was ready for talks with President Emmerson Mnangagwa after South Africa said that problems facing the southern African country were mainly political.
The opposition has been accusing President Mnangagwa of adopting the same heavy-handed tactics used by his predecessor, Mr Robert Mugabe.
South Africa’s International Relations minister Naledi Pandor announced a major shift in her country’s approach to Zimbabwe’s crisis, saying “practical solutions” were needed to end the current crisis.
“The political formations in Zimbabwe remain at loggerheads and have apparent deep antipathy towards each other, which makes joint decision-making and planning extremely difficult,” Dr Pandor said.
“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. Thus the politics and the economic, as well as the social, need to be confronted simultaneously.”
The Chamisa-led opposition last year rejected President Mnangagwa’s election victory claiming the polls were rigged.
Southern African countries, including South Africa, endorsed President Mnangagwa and, at the last regional meeting held in Tanzania, agreed that Western sanctions were behind the crisis that has crippled Harare’s economy.
Mr Chamisa said the opposition will welcome South Africa to mediate in talks between him and President Mnangagwa.
“For months now, we have been asking our African brothers and sisters to look into the man-made governance crisis in Zimbabwe and help us restore the dignity of citizens,” he said.
Additional reporting by Nation correspondent.