Cry the beloved neighbour

GOVERNMENT’S STANCE ON Zimbabwe is a disgrace. Mbeki’s “quiet diplomacy” is merely a euphemism for his callous indifference. He continues to turn a blind eye while the Mugabe regime violates virtually every human right.

Under the iron grip of its murderous dictator, Zimbabwe, a once prosperous nation, has slid slowly towards the abyss. Millions are starving. The army and bureaucracy are in shambles. Lively informal settlements have become flattened moonscapes. The political opposition is quashed. Ordinary people are mercilessly persecuted. There is near-total press censorship, illegal farm expropriation and exponential inflation.

Silence about this criminal autocracy equates to a tacit approval of it. Thus, our president is complicit in the Zimbabwean catastrophe. South Africa, as Africa’s economic and military powerhouse, has been in the unique position of being able to pressure Zimbabwe into reforming yet Mbeki has done nothing. He has passively watched our beleaguered neighbour and the way its citizenry, both black and white, have been shockingly abused in ways that bear a palpable resemblance to the sufferings of blacks during SA’s apartheid.

The two presidents may share a history of resistance against the subjugation of the majority. They may also share a few character traits. But this is no excuse for Mbeki to regard the friendship and approval of a megalomaniac comrade such as Mugabe as more important than the rights – and lives – of millions of Zimbabweans.

Had Mbeki and the South African government stepped in several years ago, Zimbabwe wouldn’t be imploding into the tragic mess of chaos and unimaginable suffering that it is now. Countless lives would have been saved and the economy would have remained intact.

It is only too clear that President Mbeki has blood on his hands. He will never be able to wash it off.


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