Johannesburg, South Africa — Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the Build One South Africa (BOSA) movement, has called on South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to abstain from attending the inauguration and swearing-in ceremony of Zimbabwean President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa, scheduled for September 4 at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
Maimane, a vocal critic of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF party, stated that Ramaphosa’s attendance would compromise the integrity of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) regarding the Zimbabwean elections. The letter from Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry Permanent Secretary, James Manzou, confirming Mnangagwa’s second-term inauguration, was addressed to various heads of state, including Ramaphosa.
“Do Not Extend the Crisis”
In a recent post on Twitter, Maimane warned that Ramaphosa’s presence at the ceremony would contribute to perpetuating the ongoing “crisis” in Zimbabwe. “Do not attend this inauguration @CyrilRamaphosa. Do not undermine SADC and do not extend the crisis in Zimbabwe which is affecting South Africa,” Maimane tweeted.
SADC’s Stance on Zimbabwean Elections
The SADC’s Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM) had previously stated that the manner in which Zimbabwe’s Harmonised Elections were conducted “fell short of the requirements of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Electoral Act, and the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.”
Ramaphosa’s Ambiguous Position
While President Ramaphosa’s office has not officially announced whether he will be attending the ceremony, he had earlier congratulated the people of Zimbabwe for conducting peaceful elections. He also acknowledged the concerns raised by international observers and those from the African Union (AU) and SADC.
Maimane’s call for a boycott comes amid increasing scrutiny of Zimbabwe’s election process and the potential ramifications of Ramaphosa’s attendance for regional politics. With Zimbabwe’s economic and political situation having a direct impact on neighboring South Africa, Maimane’s plea may resonate with many who are concerned about the stability and integrity of democratic processes in the region.
The office of President Ramaphosa is yet to respond to Maimane’s call for non-attendance, leaving many to question the diplomatic implications of whatever decision is made.
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