Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The deafening silence
Anybody noticed how the key players have gone silent on SA's bailout loan to Zimbabwe? With negotiations between Trevor Manuel and his Zimbabwean counterpart commencing last week, there has been nothing but static regarding its progress this week.

An offer was clearly made by the South Africans to get former Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano in for help in mediating talks between the MDC and Zanu-PF, which Mugabe has today loudly rebuffed. It seems largely indicative of the sort of background shuffling that is going on unseen by various South African diplomats. This deal is very important to South Africa, as having been constantly berated by local and global allies for their lack of progress in quiet diplomacy, it represents what could quite possible be quiet diplomacy's last gasps.

As I've said before, if this loan fails - or goes through without any political stipulations - Mbeki and Dlamini-Zuma may be forced to adopt a more forceful, and vocal, foreign policy with Zimbabwe. It is clear that this is not the way Mbeki and other ANC Africanists want to go, hence the scrambling that is currently going on behind the scenes.

This is clearly a situation that is not going to be rushed, and one that is not going to be lost without a significant fight by the South African diplomatic corps. Oh to have a phone tap on Trevor's mobile phone!