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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Lying leaders betray us all

from I Luv SA blog:    Source:

Motlanthe perpetuates Mbeki’s Great Lie about Zim

In July 2003, US President George Bush met President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria and declared that he would not second-guess South Africa’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” in regard to Zimbabwe.

“The president [Mbeki] is the point man on [Zimbabwe],” said Bush, who was on his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa as president.

Bush went on to declare: “He [Mbeki] believes he’s making good progress. I think Mr Mbeki can be an honest broker.”

Bush was bamboozled by Mbeki, who, even then, was not an honest broker in the Zimbabwe matter. He was doing his best to protect Robert Mugabe from censure from the likes of retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, the UN and his own people. Even as journalists were being jailed and newspapers shut in Zimbabwe, Mbeki shamelessly marshalled South Africa’s foreign affairs muscle to the protection of this one man on all and any international platforms.

In the meantime, Mugabe was terrorising the opposition and ordinary citizens. His cronies were looting state coffers. And, while schoolchildren were forced to stay at home for lack of teachers, the children of Mugabe and his cronies were schooled in foreign countries.

Fast forward to this year (when Zimbabwe is in an utter shambles ) and the telephone conversation between the new US president, Barack Obama, and (the newish) South African president, Kgalema Motlanthe, last Wednesday.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the two leaders talked about their “shared concerns” about Zimbabwe.

“President Obama emphasised the importance of South Africa’s leadership role as a strong and vibrant democracy in Africa,” Gibbs said. “The president noted that South Africa holds a key role in helping to find a resolution to the political crisis in Zimbabwe.”

Here we go again. As I write this, the South African government and the SADC leaders have, once again, been trumpeting to the world that there has been an agreement on Zimbabwe. Frank Chikane, the director-general in the presidency and a point man on the issue, said on Wednesday: “It has been tough, but we are there.”

Chikane said the agreement was on the formation of an all-party government and it set a new timetable for the accomplishment of each stage of the agreement. He said that the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC — despite its statement that reports of its agreement were “malicious” — was part of the deal.

And so let’s all sit up and applaud. But should we? Something truly fundamental and absolutely essential to our future conduct as a country was compromised by the Zimbabwe imbroglio.

That thing was the ability to articulate and stick to a true, clear moral line. It was for the good people of the world (one wishes we South Africans could count ourselves among them) to stand up and say that something truly horrible is happening to our northern neighbour, or in any other place on earth.

But we did not stand up.

Last week’s deal continues the lie that two equally legitimate protagonists are in competition for power in Zimbabwe. That is a lie perpetuated by the Mbeki government and carried on by the Motlanthe government.

The truth is that Mugabe is a dictatorial monster who has killed and tortured his own people. He is a despot not worthy of the support this country has given him.

Tsvangirai, for all his dithering and lack of spine under the pressure of the likes of the SADC’s leaders, fights on the good side of humanity. We should have condemned Mugabe for the multiple horrors he has unleashed on his people and given succour to Tsvangirai.

Instead, Mbeki saw fit to join Mugabe in calling Tsvangirai a puppet of the West.

The words of Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi reverberate with an indisputable truth. Vavi said last week that Motlanthe could have taken decisive action by saying that he was withdrawing South Africa’s acceptance of Mugabe as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe.

Instead, Motlanthe has, at all points in the past four months, slavishly followed Mbeki’s discredited and shambolic line of appeasing the dictator while rubbishing Tsvangirai and painting him as the spoiler.

“We are not quite excited by our current government led by Comrade Motlanthe’s take on the issue. It is disappointing to say the least,” Vavi said.

So what now? It might well be that Tsvangirai accepts the sham deal brokered by the SADC and sits at the high table with Mugabe. But we have been here before and within minutes of that agreement Mugabe will be jailing activists and generally behaving badly.

Motlanthe and the SADC? They will join Mbeki as the men who propped up a dictator.

Obama would do well not to tarnish his name by linking his Zimbabwe policy to theirs.