Zimbabwe and South Africa share a common boarder yet the narratives in both countries are diametrically opposite.
What does Zimbabweans need to do to lift themselves from their current quagmire?
Can they depend on the government of South Africa to provide the missing magic bullet?
Mr. Roger Southall of the University of Witwatersrand wrote on 28 January 2019 under an article entitled: “What SA should do about Zimbabwe’s crisis?” that: “In South Africa, demands that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government should take firm action are fuelled by two factors. The presence of a large Zimbabwean migrant community within the country is one. The second is a widespread sense that Pretoria’s policy towards its errant neighbour has always been one of light wrist-tapping rather than a vigorous twisting of arms.”
The question that arises from the above is whether it matters that people of Zimbabwean descend are part of the heterogeneous SA population. Indeed, it is not in dispute that people of Zimbabwe are in SA in large numbers yet no address exists where their voices on what SA foreign policy should be.
The Zimbabwean-centric SA constituency is largely missing in action. From a public policy standpoint, there can be no legitimate basis to assert that the SA government’s policy in relation to Zimbabwe is driven by any organized lobby of Zimbabwean-linked residents and citizens.
In the SA power structure, there is no visible Zimbabwean-linked persons who have assimilated themselves in the branches of government i.e. the judiciary, executive and legislature to provide an moral address from which wisdom and understanding can be found on how best SA can be a useful neighbor of Zimbabwe.
At a time when the West have remained steadfast that the conditions for removing the remaining targeted sanctions against certain persons and institutions in Zimbabwe have not been met, South Africa finds itself on the side of the rest of the African continent lobbying for sanctions to be removed without asking the Zimbabwean authorities to comply with their own 2013 Constitution.
What would one expect of a neighbor when the objective conditions in Zimbabwe clearly point to a behavior by the government authorities including the President that speaks of a new dispensation yet the reality suggests otherwise?
Would you not expect SA government authorities to tell it as it should be told that absent the restoration of constitutionalism and the rule of law, the prospect of Zimbabwe delivering its true promise given the resource endowment is limited?
It is the case that fraternity and affinity is what best characterizes the relationship between the actors in both the Zimbabwean and SA governments. When they meet, they pretend everything is well except for the imagined machinations of the Western countries who are generally portrayed as predators and imperialistic.
Notwithstanding, it is common cause that the SA government will not come to the assistance of the Zimbabwean government financially.
Zimbabweans will soon learn that the Bi-National Commission (BNC) is nothing but a ritual where honesty is the only variable that is predictably missing in the discourses.
Privately, President Ramaphosa would no doubt be wishing that SA when it turns 39 years old will not end up in the same condition as Zimbabwe is.
Some may not agree that poverty is a friend of lawlessness. It cannot be disputed that absent the rule of law, poverty will be inevitable yet it has not been possible for the SA government to bring this message home in specific terms to the authorities in Zimbabwe.