Sunday, August 30, 2009


28th August 2009.

Dear Friends,

The BBC World Service last night showed an interview with Moeletsi Mbeki, the brother of the former president of South Africa, and an independent-minded man who has shown in his speeches and writings that he is not bound by rigid partisan political thinking. He was asked in the interview whether he thought anything would come out of President Zuma's visit to Zimbabwe. In sharp contrast to the naive optimism being expressed by some commentators inside Zimbabwe, Moeletsi Mbeki replied, with reasoned argument, that he thought very little would come out of Zuma's visit to resolve the stalemate in the Zimbabwean political situation. As evidence of this he cited Zuma's own political credentials. As a Liberation fighter, as was Mugabe, Zuma has not demonstrated that he differs in any way from the 'Liberationist' stance taken by SADC and the AU , both of which organizations have failed to raise their voices to condemn Zimbabwe's blatantly rigged elections and human rights abuses. As Mbeki pointed out, South African observers were there in Zimbabwe and saw for themselves the rigging and intimidation but still declared the elections 'free and fair'. In addition, the ANC itself has also not spoken out clearly to condemn the continuing violations of the GPA by Zanu PF. In effect, Mbeki argued that President Zuma's visit to Zimbabwe was unlikely to bring about any real change in Robert Mugabe's behaviour. Like his predecessor, Zuma is bound by the 'Old Boy' network that continues to protect Africa's dictators. Only two African leaders, Moeletsi Mbeki pointed out, have actively condemned Mugabe's blatant rigging of elections. Mbeki might also have pointed out that Zuma has only a short period left before he hands over the Chair of SADC to Angola, another ally of Robert Mugabe.

It was interesting in the light of Meoletsi Mbeki's comments to read what President Zuma said at the banquet held for him by President Mugabe at State House last night. Zuma spoke of 'positive developments' foretelling 'good things' for Zimbabwe, a suitably vague comment which could be taken to mean just what his listeners wanted to hear! "We are all encouraged" Zuma went on, "by how the three parties put their differences aside in the service of the country…The remaining issues are not insurmountable and can be overcome." Perhaps it was too much to expect that Zuma would spell out the specifics at such a 'ceremonial' occasion but the fact that he had already had a private meeting with Robert Mugabe before the banquet rather suggests that Mugabe still has the dominant voice.

As for 'putting their differences aside' as President Zuma put it, we had two different speakers from the Zanu PF side this week who both articulated the real state of affairs, six months after the GPA was signed. Patrick Chinamasa the Zanu PF Minister of Justice who had earlier led the walkout of Zanu PF ministers at the retreat held for members of the Unity government said prior to Zuma's visit, "Our position is very clear. We hope our principal, President Robert Mugabe tells President Zuma that the outstanding issues are sanctions and external interference." Chinamasa went on to dismiss the issues of the Governorship of the Reserve Bank and the office of Attorney General saying, " they are nowhere in the GPA… There is continued interference in our private affairs."

It was Didymus Mutasa, the one remaining old war-horse and close ally of Robert Mugabe, speaking to Zanu PF parliamentarians the day before President Zuma arrived in the country, who spelt out in no uncertain terms the 'hardliners'stance. Mutasa's words hardly suggest that differences have been set aside 'for the good of the country'. "Cde Mugabe is the head of government," he said, "He is the one who chairs our cabinet. He is the one who tells us all, including the Prime Minister, what should be done." With breath-taking disregard for accuracy, Mutasa went on to claim that "the MDC was responsible for the poverty and starvation currently taking place in Zimbabwe" all of this he alleged was a result of sanctions which the MDC has invited. He reminded the Zanu PF parliamentarians that they should never forget that "the MDC want nothing less than regime change." That last statement is perhaps the most accurate in Didymus Mutasa's wild ramblings. To get rid of Mugabe was after all why the people voted for the MDC in the last election and why they are increasingly disillusioned with this Government of National Unity's failure on so many fronts: to restore the rule of law, to take forward the constitutional process and to bring about media reform. One report in the Zimbabwe Independent concerning this last point clearly shows how fed up ordinary people are with the continued use by Zanu PF of the media to further their own propaganda and continue the deification of Robert Mugabe. Some 200 ordinary citizens attended a Public Meeting called by the Media Committee of parliament to sound out public opinion on the conduct of the state-controlled media in Zimbabwe. It was a school girl in a bright red jersey who had the crowd on their feet, applauding and cheering when she said, "If I go to America to study medicine I will never come back. The media made me hate my country." That young school girl spoke for so many of us inside the country and outside in the diaspora. Is it likely that President Zuma and other African leaders will read her words and think again about their support for the 'Liberation Hero' who has led his country to the brink of annihilation?

Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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