Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Mbeki for Nobel Prize?
I can't help but feel a bit ambivalent about the Economist's ambitious leap of logic in stating "South African President Thabo Mbeki should have been considered for the Nobel Peace Prize" instead of Kenyan Wangari Maathai. Considered, perhaps, but seriously considered?

The Economist says:
Today, the politician who has arguably done the most to end the world's worst wars is South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, who was instrumental in pushing Congo and Burundi from utter mayhem to shaky peace.
It goes on to say:
Ah yes, you say, but he has controversial views on AIDS. So does Ms Maathai, as it happens. As she reiterated last week, she thinks the virus was created by “evil-minded scientists” to kill blacks: “It is created by a scientist for biological warfare.”

It's an interesting, and in my opinion, rather generous conjecture by the Economist. Mbeki prides himself on foreign policy initiatives throughout Africa, but it is in my view a little too charitable to conclude that Mbeki was solely responsible for bringing peace to Congo and Burundi. I suppose many will submit that it was a lean year for Nobel Peace Prize candidates, and such was the selection of a rather controversial winner, but I still maintain the Mbeki has underlying faults in his foreign policy in the albatross Zimbabwe which would make his selection an even more controversial one.

Nontheless, any bit of good press in the Economist is welcome, but the muted response from Mbeki's spokesperson, Bheki Khumalo, infers that we can conclude that it's not being seen as a majorly credible endorsement.