Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

Mbeki, do it for your own legacy

Posted by CM on March 17, 2008

We have had enough years of South African President Thabo “hear no evil, see no evil in Zimbabwe” Mbeki to know that there is no prospect of him even so much as mildly chiding Robert Mugabe for the destruction he has caused the country he rules. Mbeki’s utter failure to have any influence at all on Mugabe will be remembered long after Mbeki has left office.

South Africa’s official excuse for its embarrassing reluctance to admit that Zimbabwe has been on a steep slide for years and that its rulers bear responsibility for it is that the latter country is a sovereign country. “Our hands are tied,” is official South Africa’s excuse for not even being able to protest at the destruction of thousands of poor Zimbabweans homes by the state, or the public beatings of opposition officials. It has also been suggested that “quiet diplomacy” which does not ruffle Mugabe’s feathers has better prospects of influencing his behaviour than publicly berating him, as many people would have liked Mbeki to have done.

But “quiet diplomacy” has been a colossal failure. Another reason for Mbeki and South Africa speaking out against the horrors of how Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe would be for them to maintain a semblance of being true to the democratic ideals they claim for themselves.

Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is not known for his eloquence. But he was eloquent when he urged Mbeki, who was appointed by Southern African countries to mediate between Zanu-PF and the MDC on creating the conditions for free and fair elections, to “break with his policy of quiet support for the dictatorship in Zimbabwe.”

“If you won’t do it for us, if you won’t do it for Africa, do it for your own country and for your own legacy,” he said.

But this assumes a sense of honor and principle which Mbeki may not possess.

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