Tag Archives: kgalema mothlanthe

Why Africa’s leaders can’t solve Zimbabwe crisis

Robert Mugabe, the embattled Zimabwean despot, has no intention of relinquishing power. He’s even said as much. And this is merely confirmed by the ongoing abduction, incarceration and torture of opposition activists and a bloody-minded refusal to share key ministries in the proposed unity government.

The SADC (Southern African Development Community) is only too aware of the Zanu PF agenda – and this makes its efforts to force the opposition MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) into a government in which it will be no more than a junior partner all the more chilling. The SADC is using the unity government as a legitimising mechanism to keep Zanu PF in power. It knows that it needs the  MDC to provide Zanu PF with a veneer of democratic respectability. But this is not what Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people chose at the ballot almost a year ago.

Yet again the SADC has refused to acknowledge the manifestation of the Zimbabwean people’s democratic will – but this is hardly surprising when SADC observer missions sunnily declared successive Zimbabwean elections “free and fair” – despite overwhelming displays of Zanu PF-sponsored intimidation and rigging.

Indeed, the SADC’s track record has shown that African leaders are incapable of resolving the Zimbabwe crisis. Not because they aren’t able to – but because they do not want to. Why? Simply because our region’s leaders are not democrats. Most share the belief that liberation movements have a divine right to rule, plunder and pillage their respective fiefdoms. Lip-service is paid to democracy and transparency provided such concepts do not challenge postcolonial ruling elites.

When Zimbabwe’s groundswell of democratic opposition to Zanu PF was met with brutal repression, Southern African leaders (with one or two pitiful exceptions) either spoke in support of Mugabe or remained shamefully silent. As Zimbabwe descended into a maelstrom of economic devastation and oppression, both quiet diplomacy and Mbeki’s mediation proved spectacularly successful in propping up Mugabe’s contemptible regime. South Africa has even adopted a proactive approach, working tirelessly to prevent the Zimbabwean tragedy from being discussed in the UN Security Council.

Tsvangarai and his party should treat the SADC – and its brazenly partisan mediation efforts – with the contempt it deserves.

As I have suggested before, an interim government must be installed by the United Nations. This government, staffed by non-political technocrats, can handle humanitarian operations to ensure the rollout food supplies and healthcare countrywide as well as the operation of essential services many of which are at a standstill.

The UN must demobilise the security and army, and provide a “peacekeeper” contingent of soldiers and police to ensure safety and security.

And then, some time next year, proper elections must be held – free and fair elections implemented and monitored by the international community.

Zimbabwe deserves nothing less.

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TAC gives new health minister thumbs up

The Treatment Action Campaign has publicly endorsed President Kgalema Motlanthe’s decision to appoint  Barbara Hogan as the new health minister and Dr Molefi Sefularo as her deputy, describing both the appointments as “excellent”. Published below is the TAC’s release:

TAC Welcomes the Appointment of New Health Minister

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) welcomes the appointments of Ms Barbara Hogan as the Minister of Health and Dr Molefi Sefularo as the Deputy Minister of Health. We congratulate President Motlanthe for making these excellent appointments.

We are confident that Hogan has the ability to improve the South African health system. She has been one of the few Members of Parliament to speak out against AIDS denialism and to offer support to the TAC, even during the worst period of AIDS denialism by former President Thabo Mbeki and former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. 0n 14 February 2003, she received the TAC memorandum to President Mbeki for a treatment plan. She was removed as Finance Portfolio Chairperson by Mbeki in part for her stand on HIV/AIDS.  She has a reputation for being hard-working, competent and principled.

Hogan has a long record of struggle for human rights. Twenty-seven years ago, she was detained and tortured by the apartheid security Police. She was tried for treason as an ANC member and spent eight years in prison.

Dr Sefularo, during his tenure as MEC for Health of North West Province, supported ARV rollout and the implementation of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) in the province.

There are tremendous challenges ahead for Hogan and Sefularo. The inequalities of the apartheid system, the HIV epidemic and the utterly disastrous reign of Tshabalala-Msimang have left the health system in a parlous state. Hogan’s biggest challenges will be to meet the treatment and prevention targets of the HIV/AIDS National Strategic Plan, integrate TB and HIV treatment, develop a feasible human resources plan for health workers and undo the considerable legacy of AIDS denialism left by her predecessor. The TAC will do all that it can to assist her and the Department of Health to meet these challenges.

Over two million South Africans died of AIDS during the presidency of Thabo Mbeki. At least 300,000 deaths could have been avoided had the president merely met the most basic constitutional requirements. Instead Mbeki and his health minister pursued a policy of politically supported AIDS denialism and undermined the scientific governance of medicine. Many more people would have died had it not been for the campaign for treatment and the independence of our courts, which ultimately forced Mbeki and Tshabalala-Msimang to implement an HIV treatment plan. We believe that the period of politically supported AIDS denialism has ended with the appointment of the Minister of Health.

We congratulate Hogan and Sefularo and wish them the best. Aluta continua!

— end of TAC release —

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The cabinet shakeup

Out with the old, in with the new. The Times profiles the new cabinet ministers appointed by President Kgalema Mothlanthe in this article.

Let’s hope they can do a better job than the bunch they’re replacing…

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Ta ta Thabo, hello Kgalema

Our new caretaker president has been announced and, contrary to what the rumour mill was saying, it will be Kgalema Motlanthe and not Baleka Mbete. Which is just as well, since he kind of looks more like a caretaker than she does.

Jokes aside, there’s no doubt a sigh of collective relief about the choice — Mbete has been a spectacularly pathetic and scandal-prone speaker better known for her endless supply of expensive haute couture than for ensuring impartiality in our democracy’s engine-room rubberstamp.

Motlanthe, on the other hand, is an intelligent, cunning diplomatic operator who will surely restore some stability at the helm of the troubled ship of state.

Read all about it in this BBC article here.

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