SOUTH African opposition Action South Africa party leader Herman Mashaba has urged the neighbouring country’s government to impose economic sanctions on Zimbabwean government and Zanu PF officials and freeze their assets saying this would force them to expedite political and economic reforms.

Mashaba made the calls at a press conference on Monday.

His call is a first of its kind from any African political leader in the region and comes barely a week after the British parliament suggested more should be asked of regional leaders in pressuring the President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime to reform.

Mashaba, a former City of Johannesburg mayor, blamed the South African government for nurturing Zanu PF’s faults and proposed a harsh approach to dealing with the Zimbabwean ruling party.

“We have a crisis taking place across our border,” Mashaba said.

“For years our government has watched while Zanu PF destroyed the country once capable of feeding much of Southern Africa. This crisis impacts our country deeply and it is now time for a new approach, it is time for hard diplomacy. We must adopt the strongest and harshest policies against the oppressive government and not punish the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“This should start by freezing assets of Zanu PF leaders which are in South Africa and banning them from entering our country until there is real reform in that beloved country,” he added.

South Africa’s ruling party ANC has maintained a softened approach to Zanu PF leaders accused of human rights atrocities, maladministration, and corruption since the early 2000s.