The current instability in Zimbabwe must be a cause for concern for all African countries who stand for democracy on the continent. According to reports, the Zimbabwean Defence Force has moved into the country's capital, Harare, to "target criminals" aligned to President Robert Mugabe - the first signs of what appears to be a military coup.
This follows President Mugabe's decision to fire his Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, last week, bringing to the surface the deep-seated factionalism within the ruling ZANU-PF. As is the case with liberation movements across Africa, ZANU-PF has become immersed in the politics of patronage, where political infighting for resources and power is rife - while the country swiftly deteriorates.
We therefore call for fresh elections to be held in Zimbabwe as soon as practically possible, and for Robert Mugabe to immediately resign as President of Zimbabwe. This will allow the people of Zimbabwe to choose a new direction for their country, and to free themselves from the tyrannical reign of Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF. True democracy is adhering to the will of the people, not the internal politics and arrangements of liberation movements.
In addition to this, we call on the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to provide our country with an urgent briefing on the nature and extent of the crisis in Zimbabwe, including what action our government will take. South Africa cannot continue with its "quiet diplomacy" while the people of Zimbabwe suffer. We must engage with the goal of finding a solution which does not open the door for another dictator to take the reins.
While the involvement of the military in politics is never to be celebrated, it must be noted that the original sin in the sad collapse of Zimbabwe was the South African government's failure, under President Mbeki, to stand up for democracy and enforce the results of the 2008 election. Allowing Mr Mugabe to remain in office even after losing an election clearly sowed the seeds for what we are seeing today.
As Chairperson of the Southern African Platform for Democratic Change (SAPDC), I have engaged with the opposition in Zimbabwe on a number of occasions, and it is clear that the only way forward is for free and fair elections to be held as soon as possible.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) stands firm in our commitment to the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law, and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa. History has taught us that failed liberation movements cannot and will not self-correct. The solution has to come from outside these movements.
Leader of the Democratic Alliance