Tag Archives: mbeki

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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Devious Shikota is merely Mbeki 2.0

Come 2009 elections, Shikota won’t be getting my vote. While their pro-constitutional rhetoric is encouraging, it’s also hard to believe.

Where was Lekota’s commitment to the constitution when he was in Mbeki’s cabinet? He seemed quite happy to toe the party line when it came to Aids, Zimbabwe and other issues.

It’s tempting took think the likes of Lekota have had a change of heart, a damascene conversion to safeguarding and promoting our constitution and democracy. But this is extremely doubtful especially when you have Shilowa saying that the dissidents “revere” Mbeki: an autocrat whose tenure was marked by the supression of debate, demonisation of critics, racialisation, Aids-denialism, lacklustre service delivery, rampant corruption and shocking complicity in maintaining Mugabe’s oppressive regime.

Something equally revealing are the figures that are emerging within the movement. Nosimo Balindlela, the erstwhile premier of the Eastern Cape, has been welcomed by the breakaway with open arms. And yet this woman led a provincial administration plagued by corruption, ineptitude and wholesale service delivery failure.

Smuts Ngonyama is another influential member in the new party. But this man hardly represents democratic values – indeed, as Thabo’s spindoctor-in-chief and head of the presidency, he epitomised all that was callously vile and Machiavellian about the Mbeki regime.

The mask has slipped. Whatever they might claim, Shikota is not about principles or reform – such utterances appear merely to be a smokescreen to dupe the electorate into giving them back the power and influence that this cabal of Polokwane losers has lost – and now craves.

Opposition parties need to be on their guard. As Rhoda Kadalie says in her latest column:

It seems a bit far-fetched for opposition parties to support Lekota and Shilowa on the grounds of principle — the sanctity of the constitution and democracy — when they know that cabal allowed the president to flout it at every turn, with regard to the weakening of Parliament, the chapter nine institutions, the National Prosecuting Authority and his support of Jackie Selebi.

I hope I’m proved wrong. But Shikota seems little more than Mbeki 2.0: a reincarnation of the self-interested, craven elite who undermined South Africa’s hard-won democracy and, while earnestly amassing power and fortune for themselves, failed to uplift and empower the masses of people who were oppressed by apartheid.

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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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Firing Mbeki ensures imminence of ANC split

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Zuma’s coterie, drunk on power, might think they’ve got the upper hand in their battle against Mbeki. But by ignominiously firing a man well known for his pride, they are simply hastening the demise of the ANC as we know it. They have provided the impetus required for the inevitable wrenching of the ANC into two distinct parties.

Everyone knew the ANC would split but most thought it was still in the distant future — like in 2014. Having recalled Mbeki, however, means he has nothing much to lose by starting up a rival movement. And he has, lest the Zuma camp forgets, an influential group of backers, supporters and funders. He even has pockets of popularity (especially amongst the middle classes), admittedly not something which appears obvious our news is saturated with mshini-toting pro-Zuma fanatics.

The Zuma camp have made a strategic blunder — by shoving Mbeki out into the cold, they are creating a significant challenge to their accession to power. Which is a good thing, of course.

Our democracy (if one can call it that) may just stand a chance.

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How the ANC will push out the President

The latest M&G’s lead story outlines how the ANC plans to get rid of Mbeki. Apparently they do not want go through the conventional route of a parliamentary impeachment or vote of no confidence for fears they will be obligated to call an early election which the party feels too unprepared for.

Instead, it has been decided to encourage Mbeki to resign and spare himself the humiliation of being “pushed”. It remains to be seen whether this will work. What is also quite exciting are the rumours abounding that Mbeki is considering creating a new party to rival the ANC. Being forced out by the ANC may well be the last straw for Mbeki, according to Karima Brown, the Business Day‘s sterling political editor who also adds:

Polls have been conducted, research commissioned, meetings held and stories spread. According to one, an election now with such a party in the field would result in a hung Parliament. That may be optimistic but it is evidence of something being hatched. So far, backers have been cautious about when or how to launch, but Malema may be pushing the boat out to sea. Much will depend on how the crisis between Mbeki and the ANC is handled over the next few days. Running an election campaign is expensive but Mbeki’s backers do not lack funds.

The birth of a rival movement will have a radical — and welcome — impact on our political landscape; while messy, it will increase our democracy’s chance of surviving because it will shatter the ANC’s hegemony.

Read the M&G’s cover story here. Click here to read the Business Day article.

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