Day By Day

Friday, October 14, 2005

Zimbabwe Update -- Mugabe and Mbeki

The Spectator asks why SA Pres. Thabo Mbeki is so supportive of the mad monster, Bobby Mugabe.
Why do Africans love Mugabe?

Actually, most don’t. A recent survey found that only 14 per cent of black South Africans approve of him. Ordinary Zimbabweans queuing up to buy potatoes — an outrageous extravagance at Z$20 per sack — are, privately, Mugabe’s most embittered critics. Mugabe’s real constituents are not the African ‘masses’ he claims to represent, but the crusty southern African post-colonial elites. Mugabe’s anti-Western histrionics appeal to their lingering insecurity, resentment and Soviet nostalgia.

The liberation elites are bound by common interests and a common theology — a millenarian belief that the parties of independence are the final prophets of a messianic age who can do no wrong and after whom shall come no other. They regard opposition leaders, black and white, not only as political rivals but as dangerous religious heretics.

This is a point I've been making for a long time. The poisonous legacy of the anti-colonial struggle and its supporting ideology of Marxist/Maoist thought are a major reason for the troubles that are afflicting Southern Africa.

And regarding the way Mbeki is handling the situation:

The threat of collapse in Zimbabwe is South Africa’s latest apology for its failed policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’. Zimbabwe is collapsing already — but never mind. The fact is that Mbeki finds Zimbabwe’s plight politically useful in dealing with his most restive constituencies at home.

The fate of Zimbabwe’s white farmers and business owners is constantly dangled before South Africa’s racial minorities as a warning of what could happen if they don’t play along. To South Africa’s massive, sometimes unruly population of urban poor, Mbeki uses Zimbabwe’s economic collapse to teach a lesson: if you demand progress too quickly, you get hyperinflation, debt and ruin. And so Mbeki flies onward in his presidential jet, en route to another pressing diplomatic engagement.

My take is not quit so cynical. I think Mbeki is inhibited by radical threats within SA.

It's an interesting perspective on a terrible time and a very terrible man. Read it here.

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