South Africa’s leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, says it will send a delegation to Zimbabwe in about two weeks. The move follows Zimbabwe’s recent refusal to allow a visit by a delegation of COSATU, the Congress of South African Trade Unions.
The Zimbabwean government had described COSATU’s visit as rebellious and irresponsible. It accused the organization of trying to divide Zimbabweans prior to the March elections and said Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa.
Joe Seremane is the federal chairperson of the Democratic Alliance, as well as a member of parliament. From Cape Town, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the planned visit to Zimbabwe.
He says, “We’re sending a delegation, a fact-finding delegation or mission, to Zimbabwe in the light of the suggestions and proposals that were made by SADC (Southern African Development Community) to Zimbabwe, requesting it or proposing and advising Zimbabwe to try and create a climate that’s conducive to free and fair elections. And we’d just like to go and see how much progress has been made towards that end. We’re not going to tell them what to do, but we want to see how they go about doing what they had to do or are doing.”
Considering the cold reception COSATU received when it arrived in Zimbabwe, Mr. Seremane was asked why he thought the DA delegation would be welcome.
He replied, “We don’t say that we’ve got a guarantee that we’ll be welcome or rejected. That is speculation and we wouldn’t want to speculate.” He says the DA has sent delegations to Zimbabwe for the past several years. Regarding the suggestions made by SADC, he says, “SADC wants the countries in the southern region to interact, that’s the first thing…there must be as free movement as possible.” SADC is also calling for a free media in the country and an independent election commission.