Any meaningful solution to the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe will have to come from the country's citizens themselves, but it is in the interest of South Africa and the region to be more determined in its diplomatic efforts to facilitate a solution.
Senator David Coltart, a human rights and opposition lawyer, recently said in a Gibs forum, "We urgently need the international community to facilitate dialogue. Zimbabwe has a caustic power in the region and the potential to undo democratic achievements. If we do not return to the values of the Constitution, this cancer can spread in the region and undermine it, including South Africa. "
Professor Arthur Mutambara, former deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe, said that the root of the current crisis in Zimbabwe is the fact that the present government of Emmerson Mnangagwa was founded in 2017 by a coup d'état: "On this basis, you can not build democracy." In addition, "the economy is in free fall and there is no appetite for solving the economic crisis. There is a deficit of trust and trust, "he added.
Coltart said Zimbabwe was at a critical moment and was "in the deepest crisis of all time, and after the militarily supported transition, it appeared that confidence was returning and there was hope that Mnangagwa would bring rhetoric into line with action."
However, he described the elections in July 2018 as "the most illegal election in the history of Zimbabwe – we saw a cynical disregard for electoral law."
Tensions continued to rise after the collapse of the economy in October 2018, and the demand to double the price of petrol in January 2019 to the world's highest price led to a national strike.
"The military's relentless reaction saw live ammunition being used against civilians, bail was systematically rejected, and the military violated the constitution," Coltart said. The authorities were often targeted against people who were not involved in the riots, including leaders from churches, civilians and trade unions.
"The economic stabilization we saw between 2009 and 2013 has been completely reversed. A culture of impunity plagues our nation, "he said.
Coltart called for a return to constitutionalism and a renewed focus on respect for prisoners' rights and respect for free and fair elections. "We have to get to the institutional foundation of our country. Therein lies our solution. "
The role of the Zimbabweans
Old Mutual Emerging Markets CEO Peter Moyo told the forum, "Once the Zimbabweans know that the world does not need Zimbabwe, they will receive a wake-up call. The international community does not have to do anything. "
He admitted, however, that it is difficult to convince people to take courageous steps because they have been "beaten to submission."
The former Dean of Gibs, Professor Nick Binedell, added that although "Zimbabwean history is primarily for the Zimbabweans," the region's crisis was structural.
It's hard to apply logic and reason to what's happened in Zimbabwe because it's so complicated and contradictory. which means that you do not have enough influence over what could happen
"One of the mistakes we all make is the belief that something magical will come and turn it around."
"It takes extraordinary courage to live and be active in a society where you are confronted with a state that knows few borders, is ready to shoot its own citizen and to intimidate and oppress him to this level", he added.
"Zimbabweans need each other. A true dialogue arises from the realization that the whole is stronger than the parts. But those with real power – business, military and government can continue to eat, "said Binedell.
"It's hard to apply logic and reason to what's happened in Zimbabwe because it's so complicated and contradictory. which means that you do not have enough influence over what could happen. "
The role of SA, SADC and the international community
Coltart called on South Africa and the international community to support the establishment of an independent electoral commission and to call Zimbabweans to register, including the Diaspora.
"Zimbabwe is a very strategic player in the region, and it is in the interest of all neighboring countries to stabilize and develop its human and natural resource potential. His latent potential remains phenomenal, "said Binedell.
South Africa benefited in particular from the crisis in Zimbabwe, and the country remained "a psychological fear of South Africa, as it has similar structural elements and it is possible, but not likely, that we could go the same way."
Binedell said South Africa's diplomatic policies against Zimbabwe had failed, and he urged local operations operations in the country to do more to use their strength to shape the government and the situation. "South African companies today earn a lot of money in Zimbabwe and have largely prevailed while the situation has worsened."
"The total collapse of the humanitarian crisis is possible – this should underline the strength of the actions of Zimbabweans, the Diaspora and countries like South Africa. It is in our direct interest to do as much as possible. While South Africa can not repair Zimbabwe, it can be an agency to bring about rationality in the country, "he continued.
Ensuring free and fair elections and setting up an independent electoral commission "are all practical things that can be done and they should be done.
For Zimbabwe, it is absolutely worth fighting for and we should do everything we can to support human rights, democracy building and the growth of this incredible economy, "Binedell concluded.
"The South African Development Community and the African Union must have a serious interest in Zimbabwe," added Professor Mutambara.
"As Africans, we will sink or swim together."
• City Press is a media partner of the Gibs Forum