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Ramaphosa calls for lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe

He said Zimbabwe’s situation was a challenge for the whole of Africa and he planned to meet its President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a later stage.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses South African Local Government Association National Members Assembly at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, Durban. Picture: GCIS.

GENEVA - President Cyril Ramaphosa called on Tuesday for sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted and said his government was in discussions with Harare about how best to help.

He said Zimbabwe’s situation was a challenge for the whole of Africa and he planned to meet its President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a later stage.

The call comes in the wake of violent demonstrations last week in which at least 12 people were killed and hundreds arrested.

The violent unrest erupted last week after a steep hike in the price of fuel. The level of force used on those who died or injured and supported by medical reports pointed to police brutality, a ZHRC commissioner told reporters, giving rise to fears that under Mnangagwa’s leadership Zimbabwe is sliding back into authoritarian rule.

The unrest drove Mnangagwa to cancel an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he had been expected to pitch for foreign investments, and fly home.

In his first public comments since cutting short a foreign trip and returning to Harare late on Monday, the president said “violence or misconduct by our security forces is unacceptable and a betrayal of the new Zimbabwe.”

“Misconduct will be investigated. If required, heads will roll,” Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, calling for a “national dialogue” involving churches, civil society and the opposition.

Hundreds of civilians, including activist pastor Evan Mawarire and opposition lawmakers, have been detained since demonstrations that were triggered nine days ago by 150 percent hikes in price of fuel decreed by Mnangagwa.

He said on Tuesday that that increase had been necessary.