Here we invite Zimbabweans and all concerned friends of Zimbabwe to post their view directly! THE QUESTION IS... "WHAT, IN YOUR VIEW IS THE WAY FORWARD IN ZIMBABWE??????".....POST IDEAS TO THANK YOU!!!

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Thursday, May 17, 2007



WHEN I first read the opening paragraphs of Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng article, 'Mbeki a scapegoat for MDC's failures', I thought he was just one of many of President Thabo Mbeki's praise singers because of its lack of balance and substance.
I rushed to the bottom of the article and was astounded by the fact that the author heads the Southern Africa and SADC programme at the Africa Institute of South Africa. The astonishment immediately transformed to deep sadness.
I was saddened by the fact that an intellectual at an institute whose vision is, according to their website, "to become the independent authoritative center of excellence for the production of knowledge on AFRICA and to promote awareness as well as the importance of unity, peace, prosperity and democracy on the African Continent" can write up such a one sided article. Researchers are usually renowned for their ability to give both side of the story. Not so in the case of Dr. Makgetlaneng.
Firstly, I wish to make it clear that I do agree that the MDC does have some very serious shortcomings and many a Zimbabwean has been disappointed by the party's failure to mobilise a disgruntled population into action. However, to claim that Mbeki is being used as a scapegoat for MDC failures is taking the matter to extremes.
The simple truth is, irrespective of how highly Dr. Makgetlaneng thinks of Mbeki, where the Zimbabwe issue is concerned, Mbeki has failed to hide his bias towards Mugabe. It is also mind-boggling that Dr. Makgetlaneng believes that the African leadership is without blame – much as it must be acknowledged that it is our responsibility as Zimbabweans to resolve our problems.
Dr. Makgetlaneng talks about unique and theoretical problems of the MDC which he does not explain and then goes on to say "the task of African political leaders and the people of other countries through their organisations is to support Zimbabweans in their efforts to resolve their national problems".
He needs to tell us exactly how the African leadership has given support to the people of Zimbabwe. Indeed there is ample evidence of support for Mugabe but none for the oppressed ordinary person. Mbeki, for example, has never even acknowledged that there is serious political repression in Zimbabwe and that activists have been and continue to be killed, maimed, tortured and raped for their political beliefs. He refuses to give the ordinary person refugee status – the same kind of support extended to ordinary South Africans by other African countries prior to 1994.
Let us just go back to the 2000 parliamentary elections. Without even bringing into the equation the issue of the much loathed Western observers, the SADC parliamentary forum and Commonwealth observer teams categorically stated that the elections were neither free nor fair. They provided overwhelming evidence that Mugabe stole the election. The South African team came to Zimbabwe – as was going to be the case in subsequent elections in 2002 and 2005, with clear instructions to endorse them, irrespective of the shortcomings.
I recall how in 2000 the head of the South African team literally sweated during a press conference, struggling to come up with the right phrases for the endorsement of an election that his team was condemning behind closed doors. They also confessed to being pressured by their government never to acknowledge that Mugabe had stolen the election. The names of the team members are for the public record. Dr. Makgetlaneng should feel free to check with them. In the end the South African team coined a phrase whose meaning they have failed to explain up to this day: "NOT FREE AND FAIR BUT LEGITIMATE".
Granted, the MDC failed to take advantage of popular anger at the time, but that should not excuse Mbeki's betrayal of the ordinary person who had voted to get rid of a repressive regime through peaceful means. He endorsed a sham election and told the world, very loudly and clearly, that he would go to the ends of the earth in support of Mugabe's murderous regime.
Dr. Makgetlaneng keeps saying there are people, without mentioning them, who say the task of resolving Zimbabwe's problems is primarily that of African leaders. Indeed various commentators have talked about the need for African leaders to assist. Being called upon to assist does not imply primary responsibility.
If, as Dr. Makgetlaneng seems to believe, Zimbabweans are not doing anything to liberate themselves, we would not have witnessed the kind of reaction from Mugabe that we have seen in the last seven years. The SADC emergency meeting that resulted in the assignment of Mbeki as mediator to the crisis came about as a result of Zimbabweans seeking to liberate themselves, hence the backlash from Mugabe.
The author then goes on to quote David Bullard of the Sunday Times as saying that the South African government's stand on Zimbabwe is "an international disgrace, particularly for a party that fought for racial equality and justice". He then proceeds to effectively rubbish this view without the kind of analysis one would expect from the head of department of a research institute.
As a black Zimbabwean who has been adversely affected by the negative developments of my country I have asked myself the same question so many times – how can a party that fought against injustice (read the ANC and therefore Mbeki) support a man whose hands are literally dripping with the blood of his people? I do not ask these questions because I seek to camouflage the inadequacies of the MDC. I do so because I do not understand the following;
Mbeki's endorsement of stolen elections. (By the way, we hear he has already endorsed the Nigerian election – the one where BBC cameras captured gunmen running away with ballot boxes amongst many other theatrics). I was particularly puzzled by how in 2005 when Mauritius was chair of SADC South Africa maneuvered its way into heading the SADC observer mission. Not surprisingly, the verdict was that the election was free and fair. The South Africans attributed the massive reduction of polling stations in urban areas (opposition strongholds) to an "administrative oversight". We were not told how at all that could have happened in a country which had run countless elections before.
Following the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth over the issue of stolen elections and human rights violations, Mbeki was made part of the troika of Commonwealth leaders set up to dialogue with Mugabe. Mbeki fought tooth and nail to have Zimbabwe re-instated even though the conditions that had resulted in the suspension had in fact deteriorated.
Various motions have been brought before UN bodies to censure Mugabe's excesses. This is one way of Zimbabweans seeking to highlight their plight at international forums in the same manner that South Africa did under apartheid. At every turn South Africa has jumped to Mugabe's defense, arguing that the situation in Zimbabwe is not a threat to international peace. In other words, to hell with those being tortured, maimed, raped and killed. It is all good because the neighbours have continued to enjoy peace and quiet in spite of it.
At the end of March upon his return from Tanzania, Mugabe jubilantly announced that none of his colleagues had expressed displeasure at his barbaric treatment of opposition activists. One Gift Tandare lost his life. We did not hear even a murmur of protest from the SADC leaders. In fact, Mugabe specifically singled out Mbeki for his understanding since according to Mugabe he understood that in future the west could target him too for regime change. A few weeks later during a visit to Zimbabwe, Zambian vice president Rupiah Banda declared Mugabe one of the best leaders the world has ever seen.
I was stunned by one of the points of the communiqué issued at the end of the SADC special summit on Zimbabwe at the end of March. The SADC expressed solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe while at the same time expressing support for Mugabe and calling upon the West to lift sanctions. How does one sympathise with both the dictator and those at the receiving end of his baton sticks?
As for Bullard's call for Mbeki to provide legal sanctuary to ordinary Zimbabweans fleeing political persecution and a collapsed economy, I am not exactly sure how this translates to support for the MDC. Dr. Makgetlaneng concludes: "It is a tragedy of Zimbabwean politics of opposition that as the leading opposition party, the MDC continues regarding such individuals as its supporters…"
Quite how such a conclusion was reached is a mystery. He is irked by the fact that white people look out for each other's interests. Why shouldn't they? That partly explains why they are so much ahead of us in terms socio-economic development. They support and hold each others' hands while we are busy pulling each other down. African leadership was in the forefront of cheering Mugabe while he ran Zimbabwe's first world agriculture industry to the ground. In the meantime, they were falling all over each other to attract the Zimbabwean white farmers to their own countries.
Ironically, while Dr. Makgetlaneng berates the MDC for apparently being supported by people like Bullard (even though he fails dismally to provide the evidence), he does not seem to be aware of the fact that Zanu PF does have white friends whose interests in Zimbabwe have been protected by none other than the African hero, Robert Mugabe.
One such example is Billy Rautenbach, a man wanted in South Africa for all manner of crimes ranging from theft to fraud. For some strange reason, our rabid war vets did not invade this gentleman's farms even though they invaded and vandalized those of blacks who were not perceived Zanu PF supporters. And by the way, one of Zanu PF's main financial supporters was the late Tiny Rowland. Thus, it does appear as if this notion of MDC being demonised for having white friends needs further research.
Lest the good Dr. has forgotten, while the determination of black South Africans to rid themselves of white minority rule is well documented, it took the ANC a good 85 years to dislodge the whites. The MDC, without seeking to make excuses for it, is seven years old. The party is trying to fight a very well resourced repressive machine which has shown that it will not hesitate to kill. True, they have blundered and continue to blunder along the way and deserve to be criticised for it.
But, to exonerate African leaders from their failure to even condemn the tyranny that is going on is unforgivable, especially when it is coming from an institution called the Africa Institute of South Africa. We cannot run away from the fact that our leaders find black on black repression acceptable and that ought to be condemned with the contempt that it deserves.
The fact that those who yesteryear used to shout from hill tops for the whole world to hear about the evils of white minority rule now tolerate similar evils in their midst is a sad indictment of Africa's leadership. One would have hoped that it is the job of people like Dr. Makgetlaneng to highlight such despicable tendencies which have been a drawback on the development of democracy in Africa instead of condoning them.
Come on Dr. Let us have a bit of balance. You owe us that.


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