SA concerned over developments in Zimbabwe

Thursday, August 2, 2018

South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has expressed grave concern over the violence that broke out yesterday in Harare. 

Briefing the media at DIRCO’s monthly engagement on Thursday, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the South African government could not, however, go into details of the elections until the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) had concluded its work. 

“President Cyril Ramaphosa and [the department] are very happy with the way the election started off. It was very peaceful and [Zimbabweans] were very happy.

“…We are concerned about what happened yesterday but we want to give the ZEC the space and respect that they deserve.” 

Sisulu said DIRCO believed the ZEC had handled the elections well. 

“We would like them to wrap up. Tomorrow, President [Ramaphosa] will address you - either in the form of a press statement or through me or personally - on South African comment on the election,” she said. 

DIRCO not contesting Grace Mugabe ruling 

Meanwhile, in a matter relating to the diplomatic immunity the department had granted to former Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe, Sisulu said DIRCO would not appeal a high court ruling that declared it null and void.

Mugabe was last year granted immunity after allegedly assaulting a woman in Johannesburg. This was after the South Gauteng High Court this week ruled that the decision to grant the immunity was inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore irrational. 

“Our lawyers have studied the judgment and outcome of the case. We have decided, after lengthy legal advice between ourselves and other legal entities, that the department would carry the legal cost, as per the court ruling. We’ll abide,” she said. 

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would now handle the matter, Sisulu said. 

BRICS Summit 

Sisulu described last week’s BRICS Summit as having been successful and historic. 

“Through the summit, we were able to showcase the treasure of this country, which is its people, who are both welcoming and professional in their dealings with our friends from other countries.” 

Memoranda of Understanding on the environment, aviation, as well as agreements on the establishment of the regional office of the New Development Bank for the Americas in Sao Paulo, Brazil, were entered into by the countries in the bloc. These were among a litany of bilateral agreements signed during the three-day event. 

Among these was the South Africa/India agreement on the setting up of the Gandhi-Mandela Centre of Specialisation for Artisan Skills. This was after the Indian government expressed desire for the establishment of the Gandhi Mandela Skills Training Institute, where South Africans would receive training in India. Experts from India would also facilitate training in South Africa. 

Other MoUs signed were those between the India Space Research Organisation and the SA National Space Agency on cooperation in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes.

The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding for the coordination and promotion of human resource development in the agricultural sector. 

During the summit, the BRICS leadership endorsed the establishment of a BRICS Working Group on the 4th Industrial Revolution through the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) and an advisory group made up of representatives of the respective industry ministries. –