Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu spoke to Independent Media’s Group Foreign Editor Shannon Ebrahim about the key foreign policy issues currently concerning South Africa.
Question: Does South Africa plan to assist Zimbabwe with the holding of a national dialogue to find political solutions to the country’s challenges?
Answer: I am not aware that they have asked for our help in a national dialogue but if they do we would be only too happy to act as mediators. But we can’t be the ones to initiate something on their behalf as that would be imposing our own will on them.
Q: What will South Africa do to contribute to Zimbabwe’s economic recovery?
A. One of the things that we discovered as we were talking through what their problems are and what we could do to help, is that sanctions are still imposed on them even after the regime against which the sanctions were imposed is now overtaken by new elections and a new presidency. We want to help them lobby those that imposed the sanctions to lift them. There is no way that Zimbabwe can be on a path of economic recovery with sanctions hovering over their head. They can’t even loan money from us in South Africa without breaking sanctions.
Q. Has there been any clarity on how much financial assistance South Africa is likely to give to Zimbabwe, and will it attach conditions to it?
A: I think it would be very unethical for me to be disclosing that kind of information. We have had discussions with them and are willing to help within our means, but I am not sure that the amount of money to be made available has been made public. We will be guided by Treasury on the amount.
Of course there will always be conditions. The reason that we are giving financial assistance is to get them out of a particular situation, and the conditions will be that we would like to see that the money is going towards what we have all agreed on, which will assist with their economic recovery. We are giving a loan in good will as we want to assist them and we trust that the money will go towards what we have mutually agreed upon.
Q: Why did South Africa not condemn the violence of the Zimbabwean security forces against civilians a few weeks ago during the protests?
A: When it became clear what was happening in Zimbabwe we issued a statement. We abhorred violence in the clearest way possible. Even at the time of the elections when live fire was used I did indicate in a press conference that South Africa was not happy that live ammunition was used. We were supportive of President Mnangagwa’s willingness to investigate what went wrong. We released former President Kgalema Motlanthe to go and investigate, and he is a man of integrity. I haven’t seen Motlanthe’s recommendations and I have no idea how far Zimbabwe is on implementing those recommendations. I will investigate what happened with those recommendations.