President Jacob Zuma (right) and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO
President Jacob Zuma (right) and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO

President Jacob Zuma has confirmed that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is “confined” to his home.

In a statement released by Zuma in his capacity as the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), the president said he had spoken with Mugabe on Wednesday and he indicated that he was “fine”.

Pretoria was also in contact with the Zimbabwean Defence Force (ZDF), which confirmed it had taken charge of the country to rid it of “criminals” around Mugabe who were causing social and economic suffering.

Zuma also said he would deploy special envoys to Zimbabwe and Angola.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the Minister of State Security Advocate Bongani Bongo are being dispatched to Zimbabwe to meet Mugabe and the ZDF.

This was announced by Zuma‚ in his capacity as chairman of Sadc.

He said this was “in light of the unfolding situation in the republic of Zimbabwe”.

The Presidency’s statement said the special envoys would also travel to Angola to see President Joao Lourenco‚ chairman of the Sadc Organ on Politics‚ Defence and Security‚ to brief him on the situation.

Earlier on Wednesday, Zuma‚ on behalf of Sadc‚ issued a diplomatically worded statement that nevertheless told the military and Mugabe’s administration, that the region would not support power being forcibly seized.

Calling for restraint and calm‚ Zuma “noted with great concern” the unfolding political situation in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Zuma “expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of government as that would be contrary to both Sadc and African Union positions”.

“The president has urged the government of the republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Defence Force to resolve the political impasse amicably, and has urged the Zimbabwean Defence Force to ensure that the maintenance of peace and security in the country is not compromised.”

The statement added: “Sadc will continue to closely monitor the situation and remains ready to assist where necessary to resolve the political impasse in keeping with established Sadc protocols and processes.”

South African opposition political parties have responded to the developments in Zimbabwe, calling on Mugabe to resign to make way for a smooth transition.

In statements issued on Wednesday, the EFF, DA and United Democratic Movement (UDM) said Zimbabwe should hold free and fair elections as soon as possible to ensure an end to politics of patronage.

The DA has also urged Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to brief the country about the extent of the “crisis” in Zimbabwe, saying SA cannot continue with its “quiet diplomacy” approach.

EFF leader Julius Malema said the ZDF should be encouraged and supported in its efforts to lead a “non-violent” transition.

The party urged the ZDF to ensure there was no loss of life in the process.

“It is high time that Zimbabwe transits to a post-Mugabe era and all progressive forces all over the world should support the transition. Further degeneration of Zimbabwe should not occur and we have an obligation to protect Zimbabwe from such,” he said.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa called on the UN, AU and Sadc to ensure free and fair elections by 2018.

With Staff Writer

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