The diplomatic scuffle between the two key southern African players began Friday, when President Robert Mugabe rejected regional pressure to rein in a wave of political violence sweeping Zimbabwe ahead of elections expected later this year.
The government mouthpiece Sunday Mail then published an editorial calling Zuma “erratic” and “disaster-prone” and criticising his stance on Zimbabwe and his support for the no-fly zone in Libya.
It also condemned Zuma’s stance on Zimbabwe, after he joined regional leaders at a summit last week in slapping Mugabe on the wrist over an upsurge in political violence.
“Mr Zuma’s duplicity is astounding. With such leaders, Africa is in mortal danger,” the editorial said.
Zuma’s office responded Monday by defending the country’s vote in favour of the UN resolution to intervene in Libya.
“Should the Zimbabwean government wish to understand our position on Libya or any other, they will contact the South African government through the normal channels,” it said.
Zuma, the mediator in Zimbabwe for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), on Friday issued a joint statement with the presidents of Mozambique and Zambia condemning a “resurgence of violence, arrest and intimidation in Zimbabwe”.
The statement, issued at the close of a SADC security summit, contained some of toughest language the regional bloc has ever used on Zimbabwe.