Zimbabwe: Thabo Mbeki Loses Final Test on Political Sanity

Published on 15th April 2008

Thabo Mbeki
Progressive Zimbabweans, enlightened Africans and democrats with a keen interest in Zimbabwean politics can now reach a verdict that president Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has irretrievably lost his Pan African bearings. For all his eccentric adventurism and misdeamenors, African National Congress [ANC] boss Jacob Zuma, compared to Mr Mbeki, would now easily pass for a saint on his constructive perspective of the Zimbabwean situation.

Political scientist Dr John Makumbe, in an interview with Zimbabwe's liberation Studio 7 radio station based in Washington, commented that even everyone knows that Zimbabwe is facing a crisis. On the contrary, Mr Thabo Mbeki, given a simple task to drag outgoing president Robert Mugabe to a crucial Lusaka Southern African Development Community [SADC] heads of government meeting on Saturday, 12 April 2008, emerged from the State House and boyishly declared: "... I wouldn't describe that as a crisis. It's a normal electoral process according to the law of Zimbabwe." Dr Makumbe can be trusted - he is a teacher.  

Who then can blame Zimbabweans for accusing president Mbeki for acting in cohorts with a senseless authoritarian dictatorship in Zimbabwe? For all we know, everything that Mr Mbeki brokered between the Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] and ZANUpf late 2007 was never applied by Mugabe's government in the just ended election. Much to every observer's surprise, Mr Mbeki told leaders at the last African Unity meeting that the two adversaries in Zimbabwe had a consensus on applying necessary electoral changes. On a visit to England early this month, again president Mbeki informed an apprehensive audience that everything was under control in Zimbabwe. If Mr. Mbeki claims that not announcing critical results more than two weeks after an election is “a normal electoral process according to the law," one wonders why African political icon Nelson Mandela spent almost thirty years in incarceration over a 'normal' Apartheid law in South Africa!  This is why Frederic Bastiat reminds us: "It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds." 

What looks like a 'normal' legal process to the average human being is an object of spite to Mr Mugabe. The same electoral law Thabo Mbeki gloats about clearly commanded that all ballot papers be counted at the polling station and results not only signed for by the [Mugabe-appointed] polling officers and all party [including Mugabe's] election agents, but also put on public display. In an event of a 'dispute' on the counting, the re-count must [have been] done within forty-eight hours or better, there is an Electoral Court to deal with any such dispute. In this case, Thabo Mbeki is aware that Mugabe had access to the official presidential 'results' before everyone else - a violation of the law - then he decides that he lost on the basis of  'fraudulent misrepresentation' in twenty-one constituencies, after almost nine days of state propaganda, Mugabe blocks access to the true results before ordering a recount! As if to rub pepper into Thabo Mbeki's dazed eyes, Mugabe 'kidnaps' the Zimbabwe Election Commission [ZEC] by literally translocating it to a secret location, arrests several of his own polling officers for good measure and then sets dates for a ballot recount. The good president Thabo Mbeki applauds this tragic drama with a broad smile and boldly states: “It’s a normal electoral process according to the law of Zimbabwe." How ‘normal’ is president Thabo Mbeki's perception of Zimbabwe's political tragedy? The answer perhaps lies in his pre-Polokwane ANC factional wars with Jacob Zuma.

Current ANC president Zuma is a populist who preached a pro-worker message at the expense of Thabo Mbeki's 'pro-capitalist' image. Mbeki's close association with South Africa's business portrays him as a good liberal who appreciates that a healthy business sector is good for economic growth. But to the rank and file of ANC derived mainly from the unemployed poor and lowly workers, a man who associates with big business is considered 'anti-revolutionary.' Mbeki then flies directly into the face of ANC extremists by associating with Professor Welshman Ncube, Morgan Tsvangirayi's bitter rival, who is a labour activist of strong ties with [Confederation of South African Trade Unions] COSATU's Zwelibanzi Vavi. Therefore, it makes political sense for Mbeki to occupy the opposing camp with anyone who resents Morgan Tsvangirayi, even if the camp is owned, controlled and run by Robert Mugabe. Thus, Mr Zuma's missiles against Mugabe are collateral damage in his war against Thabo Mbeki.

The only problem for Mbeki is that to Zimbabweans and enlightened Africans world over, he is a Pan Africanist betting on an old horse that has galloped well out of the political racetrack.  If there had been any semblance of integrity left of his image as a sensible statesman, it went up in flames in that single "no crisis in Zimbabwe" statement. Long after Robert Mugabe is off the political arena, history will punish Thabo Mbeki as a man who let emotions shroud his judgment and caused many innocent citizens to die, whose only crime was to defend modern-day liberty. From 29 March 2008, six million Zimbabweans consider Robert Mugabe's rule immoral, illegal and repugnant. Any further attempts to extend and enforce his stay in power, even where bank rolled by so-called Pan African democrats like president Thabo Mbeki, are about to meet with massive, popular resistance.

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