South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has waded into a potentially explosive diplomatic tiff between Zanu-PF and the ANC over threats by Zanu-PF to “leak a bombshell” that would expose and embarrass South Africa’s ruling party.
Ramaphosa yesterday came out guns blazing, daring Zanu-PF’s director of information Tafadzwa Mugwadi to come out with his “bombshell” and reveal the “real reason” which he claimed was behind his party’s visit to Zimbabwe last year.
Mugwadi has threatened to expose the ANC’s alleged sinister agenda behind their trip to Zimbabwe last year. The threat was an angry reaction to what Mugwadi views as hostile reportage against Zanu-PF by the South African Broadcasting Corporation. He is demanding that the ANC intervenes to stop SABC News reporter Sophie Mokoena from reporting what Zanu-PF deems is fake news about the goings-on in Zimbabwe.
“If the ANC and SABC News do not restrain and rein in Sophie Mokoena, whose fake news reporting and tweeting directed only at undermining a neighbouring country and President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa for no apparent reason, I will seek permission to leak a bombshell on why the ANC delegation came,” Mugwadi took to microblogging site Twitter on January 5.
In the public spat with the SABC News staffer, Mugwadi went further to accuse Mokoena of being in an improper sexual relationship with a senior ANC official and was pushing an anti-Zimbabwe narrative.
“Now here is your case: your anti-Zimbabwe stance and anti-ED stance is sponsored by an embattled ANC senior [official] to whom you are a concubine. We have information, urchin,” Mugwadi said.
Ramaphosa told the SABC News, however, that the ANC sent a delegation to Zimbabwe to understand the situation in the country with a view to help.
“I don’t know what the representative of Zanu-PF was talking about and I am sure that he will be willing to share all that with the ANC and all of us,” Ramaphosa said.
“We sent a delegation as the ANC to Zimbabwe because Zanu-PF is a sister party to us, we have a deep and strong base with Zanu-PF and it was one to express concern and find out what was happening and to see the extent to which we can either be supportive and fully understand precisely what was happening.”
“In as far as we are concerned, there was absolutely nothing amiss and nothing we can say we had to hide. At government level, I appointed three envoys who went to Zimbabwe and we continue to interact with Zimbabwe and I am also in contact with President Mnangagwa on an ongoing basis.”
The ANC sent a delegation last year that was led by its secretary-general Ace Magashule to understand the crisis in Zimbabwe following a series of human rights violations, and arbitrary arrests of opposition actors and citizens, among other disturbing events.
After the visit, the ANC observed that there was a crisis in Zimbabwe despite denials by Zanu-PF and Mnangagwa.
The delegation promised to return to Zimbabwe to meet other stakeholders including the opposition, churches and civic society. They have, however, not returned, raising speculation that Zanu-PF, which was publicly against such interaction, had succeeded in blocking them.