Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The shame of Thabo Mbeki

There has been a drought of TV news coverage from inside Zimbabwe due to a ban by Mugabe. So, the report last night by Neil Connery on News at Ten was extraordinary. There was footage of Mugabe's thugs going into villages at night on the rampage. And then shots of MDC supporters in a hospital recovering from appalling injuries and testifying to their torture at the hands of Mugabe's gangs.

It seems to me that Thabo Mbeki is the key to a just Zimbabwe solution. Zimbabwe depends on South Africa. It was the same in Ian Smith's days when he relied on support from the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Up until now Mbeki appears to have behaved like a complete wuss in respect of the Zimbabwe elections. His pathetically lax attitude to Mugabe can be sharply contrasted to that of Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia's President. Indeed, in an excellent leader article in the Guardian today, they report that Morgan Tsvangirai has called for Mbeki to be replaced as mediator for the Southern African Development Community in favour of Mwanawasa.

The VIP status afforded to Tsvangirai at the recent SADC meeting is encouraging. But they now have to step up to the plate to ensure that the second round of voting is fair. The signs are not encouraging. The votes for the recount (which just happen to be mostly where the MDC won) have been taken away from view for days. The electoral commission says that a lot of work is involved in the recount. Round spherical objects.

What also shows up the revolting lassitude of Mbeki is the completely contrasting view of his own party (who incidentally have dumped him as their leader) - the ANC. The Citizen reports from Johannesburg today:

...the ANC is going over President Thabo Mbeki’s head in a new initiative to meet Zimbabwean political parties in an attempt to harmonise the situation in Zimbabwe.

A source within the ANC told The Citizen the decision was taken because President Thabo Mbeki had failed to act on Zimbabwe, as he had a “soft spot” for Robert Mugabe, the “caretaker president” of Zimbabwe.

Mbeki has failed the people of Zimbabwe, African leaders and international leaders. He also made disturbing comments, saying there is no crisis in Zimbabwe while people are being beaten up, evicted and killed.

“The ANC had no choice but to take action directly to speak to political protagonists in Zimbabwe,” said a source

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