President Jacob Zuma is “cautiously optimistic” regarding the political turmoil in South Africa’s northern neighbour Zimbabwe, he said on Saturday.

“As we have said in the last few days, our region, SADC [Southern African Development Community], is committed to providing support to the people of Zimbabwe to resolve the political situation that has arisen there,” Zuma told business people at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.

The Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) and the governing Zanu-PF party are “negotiating” with President Robert Mugabe, 93, to step down after 37 years in power, but he is reportedly reluctant to comply. Zuma is the current rotating chairman of the SADC, which consists of 14 countries including Zimbabwe.
 
Zuma said on Saturday he had spoken to Mugabe telephonically earlier in the week after it was reported that the president was under military imposed house arrest in the capital Harare, an apparent attempt by the ZDF to avoid a coup by negotiating Mugabe from power. Zuma said both of the envoys he had sent to Harare had “fruitful” meetings with Mugabe, some government ministers, and leaders of the ZDF.   
 
“Although it is early days, we are cautiously optimistic that the situation will be resolved amicably. We wish to reiterate our commitment to support the people of Zimbabwe during this difficult period. A stable and peaceful SADC region is in our best interests, and Zimbabwe is a critical member of our regional community,” he said.
 
Zuma also reaffirmed the African Union directive against unconstitutional changes in government on the continent, “which all SADC member states should abide by”. South Africa had historical, economic, cultural, political, and family ties with Zimbabwe. “We urge all our people to support the Zimbabwean brothers and sisters as they face the current difficult situation in their country,” he said.
African News Agency