Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thabo is reduced to leaks...
You know times are tough on Mbeki's Zim stance when he is forced to leak a seven year-old document to try to prove that he, at once stage at least, was able to voice an opinion on Mugabe. The document, leaked to the Mail & Guardian on Friday, illustrates a different Mbeki talking tough in a letter to Mugabe.
He warns the Zimbabwean leader not to drive anyone away on the basis that they are guilty of "imperialist machinations aimed at limiting national sovereignty".

"To resort to anti-imperialist rhetoric will not solve the problems of Zimbabwe but may compound them."

Mbeki warns that Zanu-PF has lost the backing of most Zimbabweans and has been taken over by "war veterans" responsible for violence and intimidation. There is a "clear alienation of the masses from the system of governance", giving scope for the formation of the MDC.

"The disjuncture among the ruling party, the state machinery and the people is also expressed by evidence of corruption within the public sector and the desertion of large numbers of public sector workers to the opposition party," he writes.

Interestingly, given his reluctance to criticise Mugabe's human rights abuses publicly, Mbeki argues that Zanu-PF has become "an opponent of the democratic institutions of governance and democratic processes … for whose establishment many militants lay down their lives".

Perceptions that Mugabe is a dictator "will inform the hostile global response to Zimbabwe ... it will not diminish in its intensity but will get worse".

"The party must admit to itself that it has created the condition for others to reach these conclusions," he says. He urges Mugabe to encourage free, open and critical discussion and ensure press freedom.

The document asks whether it is "strategically and tactically correct" for Zimbabwe to be in confrontation with the United Kingdom.

It also reminds Mugabe of the potential fallout for South Africa -- a worsening economic crisis in the form of migration, pressures on the rand and "regional contagion".

Mbeki remarks that although Zimbabwe played a leading role in Africa after independence, it is now viewed as a country in crisis, threatened by social and economic collapse.

"Support in Africa is lukewarm and hesitant, while countries in Southern Africa are fearful of the consequences of a deeper crisis in Zimbabwe. Globally it is presented as a negative factor in the context of the development of Southern Africa and Africa," he writes.

A case of too little too late, or too much too soon? Read the entire document here.