South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has come under fire at home and north of the Limpopo for promising to support President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party in the next Zimbabwean general elections.
ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantanshe said in a message of solidarity at the just-ended ZANU-PF National Conference that his movement was ready to advise and help ZANU-PF secure victory, saying the relationship between the two liberation parties was “steeped in blood.”
But South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance and Inkatha Freedom Party took exception, saying the statement was regrettable given President Jacob Zuma's mediation role in the long-running Harare crisis.
Democratic Alliance Deputy Foreign Affairs spokesman Stevens Mokgalapa said the ANC’s position throws into question Mr. Zuma’s impartiality.
Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of the Movement for Democratic Change wing led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the ANC pledge amounts to regional imperialism.
“It will benefit some people in South Africa to keep Zimbabwe in doldrums,” added Mwonzora.
ZANU-PF Parliamentary Whip Jorum Gumbo said the bond between his party and the ANC cannot be removed.
“If the ANC is going to give ZANU-PF advice on how to conduct elections or how the members of ZANU-PF should behave during elections so that the elections can be credible, what is wrong with that?” Gumbo questioned.
“It’s a bond that we share as liberation movements because we were together in the trenches."
Zuma aide Lindiwe Zulu, spokeswoman for the South African facilitators working with Harare, said the ANC position should not be confused with Mr. Zuma’s mediation role.
“People should also look at our track record from the time that we started the facilitation process," Zulu said. "We are fair, we are frank and we are honest with all the political parties without fear and favor of any of the political parties.”