The ANC delegation jetted into Harare Tuesday evening amid reports the South African ruling party was strongly concerned over the continued influx of Zimbabweans fleeing their country during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The delegation led by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was met at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Zanu PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and several senior party officials.
Other members of the ANC delegation are; ANC chairperson and Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe, Defence Minister and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, NEC and National Working Committee member Tony Yengeni, Social Development Minister and chairperson of the NEC on international relations Lindiwe Zulu and chairperson of the NEC on economic transformation Enoch Godongwana.
The two former liberation movements are expected to meet Wednesday to discuss crucial talks affecting both countries.
“The ANC delegation will meet the Zanu PF delegation led by the secretary for administration, Dr. O.M Mpofu, as part of party to party engagement,” Zanu PF acting national spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.
“We are also aware that this visit is taking place against the backdrop of false claims of a nation in crisis. Zanu PF will take this opportunity to share the reality on the ground in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and in the region and frankly with their revolutionary sister in the ANC.”
However, according to an ANC NEC member, Dakota Legoete, the SA delegation’s agenda was to express South Africa’s displeasure over the influx of Zimbabweans in South Africa estimated to number five million.
This put a strain on the neighbouring country during the devastating Covid-19 pandemic. South Africa is the worst affected country in Africa in terms of Covid-19 infections and deaths.
“The ANC delegates will engage in party to party relationship to find a common understanding and solution to challenges faced by both South Africa and Zimbabwe, and discuss how it impacts the economic, political and social stability of both countries,” he said.
SABC political editor, Sophie Mokoena also confirmed that on top of the ANC delegation’s agenda was the issue of millions of Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
“There is a Zimbabwe crisis in South Africa. One senior government official said because of Covid-19, they are feeling the pressure because people are crossing into South Africa from Zimbabwe illegally because they are leaving Zimbabwe because of economic challenges, political reasons,” she said.
“The Constitutional Court in South Africa has ruled that whatever government is going to do to assist the citizens of this country, the South Africans, on Covid-19, they must do the same to the refugees.
“Therefore, it is getting very heavy for the social development department in particular. Now you have the added burden of people who are coming in because they are experiencing hunger.
“You have to do something in terms of international law. They (ANC delegation) want to discuss with Zimbabwe their concerns. Yes, because Zimbabwe is saying there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, but there is a Zimbabwe crisis in South Africa.”
Meanwhile, Magashule has also not ruled out the possibility of the ANC delegation meeting other organisations besides Zanu PF while in Zimbabwe.
Speaking to the media on arrival Tuesday evening, the ANC secretary-general said they were yet to decide on who else to meet.
“We are going to meet Zanu PF as the ANC and we will engage and we will take it from there. There are many others who would like to meet us. We still going to decide ourselves but obviously, we will meet whoever we have to meet, but our meeting is for Zanu PF now,” he said.