The South African government on Tuesday sent well wishes to Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who is being treated in India for an undisclosed ailment.
“On Zimbabwe, we must start by wishing Vice President Chiwenga a speedy recovery. We all know that he has not been well. I am informed by our High Commissioner, that he [Chiwenga] has travelled to India for further treatment that will help his condition,” SA International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told journalists in Pretoria.
We wish him a speedy recovery there.”
The health of the influential former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, Chiwenga, 62, is keenly followed amongst Zimbabweans – particularly on social media – as the retired military general is largely credited for ousting tyrant Robert Mugabe who had ruled the small African nation for over three decades.
Chiwenga was the military general who led the ousting of veteran leader Mugabe in November when the army briefly took control and ushered Emmerson Mnangagwa to the presidency.
Addressing numerous international and domestic matters, Pretoria’s top diplomat said her country is ready to assist Harare in different forms.
“We have also noted the developments in Harare, following the recent protests. We have also noted all decisions taken by President [Emerson] Mnangagwa. We remain available to assist Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe government, as we have insisted. [Anything] that is within our means and which is reasonable for us to do. We remain very committed to supporting its people whenever they need us. They are our neighbours, their state of peace or otherwise affects us and therefore we would like to ensure that it is a prosperous country, as it is capable of being a prosperous country,” said Sisulu.
Reiterating South Africa’s calls for sanctions against Zimbabwe to be scrapped, Sisulu revealed that President Cyril Ramaphosa will next month lead a high-level delegation to Harare for a bi-national commission.
“We are preparing for a bi-national with Zimbabwe, on March 12th. Our President [Ramaphosa] will lead the delegation to Harare. I think sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe will be top of our agenda and we are putting them across in the world, because we believe that for as long as Zimbabwe has sanctions imposed on it, the possibility of recovering from its economic woes will remain very glim and dim,” said Sisulu.
Responding to the African News Agency (ANA), Sisulu said South Africa is not ignoring the widely reported concerns around human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
“Human rights are central. We say them in the same way that religious people say “amen” at the end of a prayer. Human rights are very central to our foreign policy. They are also very central to our interaction with other countries. We used the opportunity of the SADC meeting we had on the sidelines of the African Union to ask the President of Zimbabwe to explain to us, as SADC members, what is happening in Zimbabwe. That should indicate to you the extent of our concern to understand what is happening in Zimbabwe, and what we as a sub-region can do to assist, to ensure that there is normality there,” said Sisulu.