This comes as the government has come under renewed pressure internally and internationally for alleged gross human rights breaches by authorities.
It also comes as analysts have said that the only viable path out of the country’s decades-long political and economic crisis is to get President Emmerson Mnangagwa to talk to the opposition.
Earlier this week, Ramaphosa’s special envoys – former South African vice president Baleka Mbete and ex-ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi – were in the country, where they met Mnangagwa over Zimbabwe’s myriad crises.
Yesterday, South African minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Naledi Pandor, said Ramaphosa would again soon be dispatching his emissaries to Harare – this time for wider consultations with key stakeholders.
“We sent envoys there (to Zimbabwe) because there have been huge concerns about reports of abuse of human rights, imprisonment of opposition MPs and many other concerns which have been directed at the presidency and my department.
“We agreed that the president would appoint three envoys and they would visit Zimbabwe.
“We asked that they should meet the government, particularly … Mnangagwa, but also meet other stakeholders in the opposition, NGOs and so on,” Pandor told South African media yesterday.
“Unfortunately, they (special envoys) could not meet other stakeholders, but Zimbabwe has indicated its readiness to facilitate such a visit and we are in discussion with the president (Ramaphosa) about the envoys returning to Zimbabwe to have wider meetings and to be able to have face contact.
“So, we are not distressed by the fact that full expectations were not met in the first visit.
“My understanding is that the discussion was cordial and indeed the desire of … Ramaphosa is that there be meetings with individuals and organisations other than the (Zimbabwean) government. This was communicated by the envoys,” Pandor further said.
She also emphasised that South Africa would continue to engage all stakeholders in Zimbabwe so that the crises in the country could be resolved.
“This is something that we must continue to work at because, as I say, the situation of Zimbabwe impacts on South Africa and South Africa has to … resolve the problems there in order to address our own situation and focus on the challenges of South Africa,” she added.
Following the meeting with Mnangagwa on Monday, Mufamadi revealed that the envoys had discussed with him the country’s situation, as well as the possible solutions to its problems – adding that the finer details of the meeting would be made available later.
“Myself and two of my colleagues, Ms Baleka Mbete and Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi, we came here as envoys of the president of the Republic of South Africa.
“We had an exchange with his counterpart. In other words we listened to the rhythm of the situation and what is being done and the intentions to do extra things and so on.
“I know you will not ask us to report to our president through the media. We will be reporting to the president (Ramaphosa) who will then interact with the public, in part through you, in due course,” Mufamadi said.
But the MDC Alliance claimed that Mnangagwa had blocked the envoys from meeting with them, despite an earlier commitment to do so.
Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said they had been formally requested to attend a meeting with the special envoys, but were surprised after being advised that the emissaries had departed without engaging with them.
“We can only assume that the failure to meet the MDC Alliance delegation was as a result of demands made by the Zanu PF delegation.
“We reiterate that Zimbabwe is in a state of crisis that has been characterised by a de facto state of emergency, a crackdown on citizens, abductions, arbitrary arrests of government critics and the political persecution of journalists,” Mahere said.
However, South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Phakama Mbete, later refuted the claims that the special envoys had snubbed the country’s opposition and civil society organisations.
Mbete told the Daily News that while the envoys had come to Zimbabwe with an open mind of engaging with other key local actors if the opportunity presented itself, their main mission on this visit was to meet with Mnangagwa.
“The special envoys came to meet … Emmerson Mnangagwa and they were also open to meeting any other key actors, including members of the opposition and civil society if the opportunity presented itself.
“In this case, however, they met with the head of state of Zimbabwe and decided to go back to South Africa and brief … Ramaphosa on their meeting.
“Their wish is to meet with other key actors in Zimbabwe and if an opportunity presents itself they will come back and meet them in future,” Mbete told the Daily News.
The appointment of the envoys came after Zimbabwean authorities were accused of gross human rights violations – following the government’s heavy deployment of police and soldiers ahead of the foiled July 31 mass protests.
Rights groups have also said dozens of opposition figures and activists have been tortured and assaulted in a retributive exercise by suspected security agents.
On its part, the government has refuted the allegations – claiming instead that the opposition is allegedly working with foreigners to destabilise the country.