Mbeki deserves special honour
“… President Mbeki needs to be specially commended and honoured by the whole Zimbabwean leadership and people for the sterling work that he has been doing in the past eight years. His “quiet diplomacy” and “soft power”, are actually not as quiet as the world wants to believe.
The backlash against President Mbeki’s presidency and his own personality has been immense. This is why Zimbabwe, as we celebrate 28 years of nationhood today, should say a big “THANK YOU” to this gallant son of Africa, just as we are saying thank you again to our gallant sons and daughters who sacrificed limb and soul for the independence of this nation. There is no substitute for genuine friendship; just like there will be no substitute for homegrown, genuine regional co-operation and integration. The least we can do is name one of our roads after Cde Mbeki and give him the freedom of the City of Harare.
As Wafawarova put it: “President Mbeki has had to face the agony of eight-and-a-half years of a crisis-waving Britain, but the ever alert and revolutionary Mbeki has not been fooled, even once. He saw no crisis with the land reclamation . . . He saw no crisis with the 2000, 2002 and 2005 elections . . .”
Apart from his now famous “No crisis in Zimbabwe” statement, President Mbeki also made the same statement a week earlier when he told dinner guests in London: “We have been very pleased with the manner in which the elections were conducted; the opposition had access to every part of the country, there was no violence, no one was beaten up. You have a very serious effort by the people of Zimbabwe to resolve their problems, we could see there was a common spirit among them and that’s the sense we got. And in the conduct of the election none of the parties came back to us to intervene to say something was going wrong.”
Something wrong with this picture
One has to ALWAYS take whatever is said in this Mugabe-an mouthpiece with a couple of bags of salt because it perpetuates half truths and lies nearly all of the time. However, there is an old maxim that says: The enemy of my enemy is my friend and the friend of my enemy is my enemy… or something like that, at least.
Is Robert Mugabe busy blowing sunshine up Mbeki’s behind? Or is Mugabe viewing Mbeki as a friend because he has not, at the face of it, quite given in to the pressure from within and from without South Africa? Or is Thabo Mbeki being viewed as a real friend by Robert Mugabe because he has maintained his soft (or is it wet) approach to the land grabs and the election fixing over the years?
In the final paragraph above, Thabo Mbeki is quoted by the Herald to be saying that All is Well. This may indeed be quoted out of context, or some measure of poetic license may have been applied to it. Who knows? However, regardless of the context, saying that there was no violence etc on the day of the election and then failing to mention the extent of the violence in the nearly three weeks post election, is highly irresponsible, fairly manipulating and somewhat dishonest.
The Political Plague in Africa
Behind the words in the Herald, Mugabe’s imperialistic rhetoric and Mbeki’s deafening silence, is one of the reasons why democracy in Africa is such a resounding failure.
For some reason, some of the African governments have not quite heard the penny drop that when they are democratically elected, they ARE governments and NOT liberation movements any longer. Because the majority of the population support them and have legally and democratically illustrated such support, the whole boring story of Struggle, is neither relevant nor appropriate.
But, for some reason – perhaps it is an attempt to use the past to play the audience – these elected leaders don’t move on, don’t salute the past and embrace the future, and don’t lift their eyes to the horizon. Their regressive behaviour debilitates progressive behaviour. It kills growth and it kills development.
Countries such as Botswana have not stepped into this trap of self-pitying retrospective-ness. That is why their economy is sound, their political landscape stable and their incidence of crime very low when compared to the rest of the continent. Now, Ian Seretse Khama is carrying the torch, which he took over from Festus Mogae, which he took over Quett Masire, which he took over from Ian Khama’s father: Sir Seretse Khama. A torch that burns brightly and that should be viewed as an example of what can be achieved, (by doing the right things), by their counterparts in Africa.
President Mbeki has done many right things during his term, but he has also failed miserably in others – the latest being his inability to manage the abominable situation in Zimbabwe. Fortunately it is nearing the time for him to step down: time to allow somebody younger, somebody more visionary and somebody bearing less baggage to carry the South African torch forward. There is political talent enough in our country. And, when we hold our elections next year, may the best man…or woman…win.
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