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S.Africa sends new envoys to Zimbabwe to resolve crisis

A South African delegation is expected to arrive in crisis-hit Zimbabwe on Tuesday, the ruling party in Harare said, in the latest attempt to mediate a recent crackdown on dissent.

Years of repression in Zimbabwe worsened in the run-up to banned anti-government protests on July 31, during which at least 20 demonstrators were arrested and charged with inciting public violence.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has since vowed to “flush out” the “bad apples” attempting to “divide our people” — stoking concern among social activists and opposition figures already targeted by the regime.

Three veteran South African politicians were sent to Zimbabwe in early August to mediate the crisis.

But the delegation did not meet with opposition parties and was widely criticised for failing to confront Mnangagwa, prompting South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa to send another set of envoys.

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party on Tuesday said that the second delegation would arrive “today” and meet its officials on Wednesday “to discuss issues of mutual interest”.

“We are also aware that this visit is taking place against the backdrop of false claims of a nation in crisis,” the party added in a statement, echoing the government’s repeated attempts to downplay the situation.

Mnangagwa has grown increasingly hostile towards critics since he took over from his despotic predecessor Robert Mugabe, who was ousted by a coup in 2017.

The southern African country has been crippled by decades of mismanagement, and many Zimbabweans complain that the situation has grown worse under Mnangagwa.

The first South African delegation, sent to Zimbabwe on August 10, met only with Mnangagwa.

No statement was issued after the visit and Ramaphosa — who is also the current chairman of the African Union — has faced pressure to take a more decisive stance.