Human Rights Watch has criticized South Africa for failing to push Zimbabwe's unity government to embrace key human rights reforms and halt violations across the country.
In a report issued this week, the rights watchdog said while Pretoria should be commended for facilitating political dialogue in Harare, it had failed the people of Zimbabwe by not speaking out against ongoing human rights breaches.
It cited the alleged beatings of villagers in the diamond-rich Marange area by soldiers and the violence that disrupted the constitutional outreach process last year as examples of Pretoria’s failure to speak out.
Human Rights Watch senior researcher Tiseke Kasambala told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that South Africa should put rights issues on the front burner when dealing with Zimbabwe.
"We feel that more could be done to push Mugabe and Zanu PF to implement better and great human rights reforms," Kasambala said.
Commenting, political analyst George Mkhwanazi concured that Pretoria in fact has the leverage to squeeze the inclusive government on rights issues.
"I believe that South Africa has a duty to monitor democratic progress in countries that are in the region, and that includes Zimbabwe," Mkhwanazi said. "So far that is not happening."
Long-ruling President Robert Mugabe has taken the flak in the past years for alleged rights abuses as he sought to tighten his grip on power, sparking outrage among activists and the international community.
Western countries including Britain and the United States have responded with a travel and financial embargo targeting him and more than hundred members of his ZANU-PF party.