Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, January 14, 2005

Farewell Sir Mark
So we finally have the end of the Scratcher Thatcher story, with Sir Mark finally admitting guilt in the rather obvious coup plot. What has become clear is that Scratcher is not the sharpest tool in the shed (the first sign was his 'disappearance' in the Paris-Dakar rally in the 80's) and one hopes that he will retire from business ventures to the Texan quiet life. I'm sure Maggie does too.

In taking a step back, one can conclude that the entire affair has reflected well on South Africa. The international coverage of the story has been ubiquitous to say the least, and the comments have not been about any "banana republic judiciary" (that has been largely saved for Equatorial Guinea), but rather about the strength of South Africa's commitment to stopping mercenary activity in Africa, an entirely noble pursuit in itself. The South African judiciary has been shown to be just and fair and the entire matter has been handled very professionally by the Scorpions. Some British commentators have decried the fact that the South African government flirted with the extradition request from Equatorial Guinea, but most level minds would conclude that this was merely the government proving a point and undertaking a touch of scare-mongering.

All in all, the case has thrown a significant amount of publicity onto the murky world of African mercenaries, and broken the back of one of the largest and most respected mercenary groups in Africa. Simon Mann's original Executive Outcomes was the blueprint for mercenary groups around the world, and his well-heeled UK backers are running for the hills.

For a full wrap-up of the Thatcher case and "Mummy saving Thatcher", read the excellent article in the UK's Independent here.