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Mbeki: A mediator that failed
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-06-22 08:50:29
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If there is a chance for a civil war in Zimbabwe the time is very close and if somebody has part of the responsibility then it will be Zimbabwe’s appointed mediator, the president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki. Despite the international awareness of what is going on in Zimbabwe, despite all the unbelievable acts from the dictator Robert Mugabe, his provocations and his challenge to any kind of democratic feeling including human rights, Thabo Mbeki pretended in the name of balance and peace that he didn’t see anything and often made Mugabe the guarantee of the Zimbabwean democracy.

Thabo Mbeki has made a crucial mistake and unfortunately it is not his first one in the last few years. I suppose it is difficult to inherit a legend or better when it comes to Nelson Mandela a myth. Mandela’s legacy is heavy, the man put the blueprint on how a dream African democracy should work and in the years he was the president he became the living example of this blueprint. South Africa has had always been a big African power, even during the hard times of Apartheid, of course what was missing then was legitimacy and international recognition of this power but South Africa has the natural resources to be independent and strong.

When the change came and Nelson Mandel became the first president of the South African democracy, it wasn’t the solution for everything; it probably just put the foundations for the solutions but most importantly he gave hope to all these millions, he inspired unity and forgiveness and in my opinion he was totally successful in that and an inspiration for all the world. And then Mbeki comes. Of course he has his history and of course he is known among the members of the African National Congress in exile. That’s one gray thing you would say about Mbeki, while his compatriots were suffering and Nelson Mandela was on Death Row and from one prison to the other for all this time, Mbeki was studying and making a life in London. The man who came out of it is definitely a pragmatist who fights for the future of South Africa but a man who was away from the struggle - it is totally different marching in the streets of London against the Apartheid in South Africa to living with it in Soweto!

The fact that Thabo Mbeki is a black president in a country that lived for decades under Apartheid and was freed just years ago, and the fact he succeeded Nelson Mandela, doesn’t necessarily make him a man of change, Thabo Mbeki is a conservative that often tries to apply the economic liberal rules he learned in the University of Sussex and the social rules he saw and learned during his army training in the then USSR. And now the man is trying to practice all that in a country with rich natural resources but not prepared to enjoy them, secure them and invest on them. How do you expect this people who just realized the meaning of freedom, who lived for generations under the disgusting state of Apartheid to become managers and executives and think like managers and executives?

First of all they have to learn to breathe free and that’s what Nelson Mandela showed them. Not many have understood yet the magnificent feat this man did, by teaching the people, demanding and showing them what forgiveness means. Nelson Mandela taught them that there is space for black and white in South Africa and they can all live in peace, but Mbeki came and with his conservative policies created a new generation of neo-rich, a new establishment, only this time they weren’t black but white. That’s why things don’t look so bright in Nelson Mandela’s country and then there was the international legacy Nelson Mandela inherited to Thabo Mbeki.

Nelson Mandela could be a mediator and he had been in African disputes during his time as president but his legacy was more than enough to solve problems, accompanied from his sense for democracy, equality and fair was more than enough. Thabo Mbeki is far, far away from that. The way he acts with Robert Mugabe shows a little scared man who doesn’t like to stand. In many ways he reminds me the English prime minister before the WWII, Neville Chamberlain; the man seriously wanted and hoped for peace with Adolf Hitler. Under similar illusions Thabo Mbeki tries to make peace with Africa’s caricature Hitler, Robert Mugabe!

Mugabe is leading Zimbabwe fast to a disaster and by calling the army, the veterans and the civil servants to unite around him against the …traitors shows that instead of losing the power he’s ready to lead the country in a civil war. In the backyard of Thabo Mbeki’s country and if the backyard is on fire then you have a problem, it can easily spread in the house especially with all these thousands of Zimbabweans in exile in South Africa and don’t forget that this is the short of fire that can expand to other neighbours.

Thabo Mbeki has to do something and this something has to be done now and be strong and loud. Robert Mugabe is a dictator, from the ones of the worst kind with only Idi Amin been able to compare with. Robert Mugabe is a murderer and only a prison is the right place for him and his accessories. Robert Mugabe must go yesterday and this moment the only one can do this is Thabo Mbeki. If he will continue instead of mediator been naively neutral then the fire is just outside the door, his door!

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Emanuel Paparella2008-06-22 10:41:31
There is another man who together with Mandela showed South Africans of both races that the way of democracy needs to go in tandem with the way of healing and reconciliation or it will not work. The Dutch were and still are some of the most liberal people in Europe, till they got to Africa; there they invented aparthaid. The man I have in mind is archbishop Tutu.

Clint2008-06-22 12:34:16
at his 90th birthday bash in Hyde Park today Mandela could heap so much pressure on Mbeki.
What a great final hurrah.

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