African National Congress leaders have in the past not taken strong stances on Zimbabwe, and President Robert Mugabeâ€
In an interview with The Daily Vox, Sisulu said that South Africa has now learnt that â€œthere are no special casesâ€ and that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) needed to heed this as well.
â€œThere must be a one size fits all, donâ€
Last week, President Jacob Zuma sent defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and state security minister Bongani Bongo to Zimbabwe to meet with Mugabe and the Zimbabwean Defence Force (ZDF). The ZDF took control of the country last week after the deputy president Emmerson Mnangagwa was fired.
Mapisa-Nqakula said on Tuesday that she and Bongo were sent to Zimbabwe as envoys of the SADC. Army general, and now coup-leader Constantino Chiwenga said they sought to remove the inner circle that had a negative influence on Mugabe, she said.
Last week, Zuma called for calm and restraint in Zimbabwe and for the ZDF to ensure that peace and stability are not undermined in Zimbabwe. In his capacity as the SADC chair, Zuma travelled to Angola and met with regional leaders to discuss Zimbabwe .
South Africa played a close role in the controversial 2002 and 2008 elections in Zimbabwe. The president at the time Thabo Mbeki – appointed chief mediator between the the ruling party, Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – would go on to be accused by the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, after the latter election concluded, of lacking neutrality and allowing a rigged vote to pass.
Sisulu said the South African policy with Zimbabwe has varied from â€œtake it easy, take it hard, itâ€
She believes Mugabe should have had a â€œgraceful exitâ€ and this would be a demeaning end to a man who contributed so much to Zimbabwe. â€œWe as South Africans could have helped him get to that exitâ€¦ It is a humiliating end, we could have been very forthright with him to say listen, this is how your people feel about you,â€ she said.
Amidst the military take-over, some Zimbabwean people said they rejected the possibility of a SADC intervention, including one who started a petition last week, a day after the army takeover, which calls for the halt in SADCâ€
When Zimbabwe has faced real security issues, including 2016 uprisings and 2008 election violence, SADC was nowhere to be seen. South Africa said there was “no crisis.”
Zim is at its most peaceful today. SADC wants to come and ruin it.
Please just stay out of it.
Bob must go.
â€” Fadzayi Mahere (@advocatemahere) November 16, 2017
Dumiso Dabengwa, the former head of intelligence in Zimbabwe, told journalists last Friday that â€œSADC has not been able to successfully resolve [issues] without being prejudiced in one way or the other.â€
Sisulu said South Africa had intelligence on what people of Zimbabwe wanted because we are the recipients of people who come from Zimbabwe. â€œThey respect comrade Mugabe for what he has done but at the same time they feel he has overstayed and should have handed power over a long time ago.â€ â€œWe [the South African government] were the only people who could have convinced him and it is a pity we didnâ€
Sisulu added no one is closer to Mugabe than the South African government and it should have been able to tell him that now is a good time hand over. â€œIf your friends canâ€
On Tuesday, the Zimbabwean parliament sat to begin an impeachment process.