opinionBy Reason Wafawarova
Harare — Since the British government began attempting to strengthen the cause of its MDC political project in 1999, South Africa, more than any other country, has been saddled with the task of "doing something in Zimbabwe."
The Western coalition has repeatedly tried to draw South Africa into its corner for the fight against President Mugabe and the most frequently asked question in all Western propaganda talk shows has been: Why is President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa dragging his feet over Zimbabwe?
This writer has once again been challenged by a few readers to comment on the role of South Africa in solving the challenges facing Zimbabwe. The short answer to this task is that South Africa is just doing fine leading the ongoing dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC.
It is what South Africa has not done, is not doing and will not do about the situation in Zimbabwe that has made the West and their insidious lackeys in the MDC express the chagrin of a ditched spouse. South Africa has not condemned President Mugabe, has not placed an embargo on Zimbabwe, has not condemned the policies of Zanu-PF and its Government; and for Morgan Tsvangirai, has not cut off power and fuel lines to Zimbabwe. Doing all these things would make the western alliance's day, as it considers such decisive and swift, not "the feet dragging diplomacy" President Mbeki has been following.
What the ever-blundering Western politicians do not seem to realise is that by attempting to drag President Mbeki to their side, all they do is drag the South African masses into the debate. It is amazing that these western politicians are so short-sighted that they cannot foresee the dire consequences of a South African mass beginning, as they have already begun, to ask about their own place in the sun in post-apartheid South Africa.
President Mbeki is on record as saying, "There are those who would like to do certain things in Zimbabwe and they want us to do those things for them. That, we will not do. Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa."
In the West, Tony Blair is the author and founder of the Western fight "for democracy" in Zimbabwe and he had to leave the ring with a bloodied nose in June this year and his chosen successor, Gordon Brown has already taken a humiliating battering in response to his uncalculated punches in the air. The most humiliating miss has of course been the attempt to bar President Mugabe from attending the EU-Africa Summit scheduled for Portugal in December, an attempt that has left Brown with the shame of a primary school kid.
The Sadc initiative on dialogue is far less than the least of what Blair would have wanted done on Zimbabwe and Brown is just as stranded as can be expected of an unelected Prime Minister, waking up with un-mandated power just thrust upon him; as William Shakespeare would put it.
In South Africa, the Western voice has been dutifully fronted by Tony Leon, the opposition Democratic Alliance face, that man who commands an amazing delusion that he can wedge "a fight for democracy" in Zimbabwe from within the walls of the South African parliament. Tony Leon's idea of democracy involve things like championing the ouster of Winnie Mandela from parliament and the demand for the harshest of sentences to deter crime in South Africa, while conspicuously being the tightest mouth zipper over racially motivated murders of black South Africans by post-apartheid whites.
In Zimbabwe, the Western voice has been dutifully represented by the white element in the MDC, the likes of David Coltart, Eddie Cross and Roy Bennet, while Morgan Tsvangirai has dutifully played the loud cry-baby in order to dupe outsiders that he is the unfortunate victim of a ruthless dictatorship. He has had willing allies from the likes of the disgraced bishop, Pius Ncube and Lovemore Madhuku. President Mbeki -- unlike the likes of Tony Leon, Tsvangirai and many of the Western charlatans, does appear to have a genuine concern and deep care for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe. He has resolutely refused to subscribe to the ruthless philosophy that says making the people of Zimbabwe suffer should be construed as a way of helping them.
This is the philosophy that has made Tsvangirai look a stooge before the rest of Africa while his party now ranks among one of the saddest jokes in post independent Africa. The Zambians and the Ghanaians just showed the MDC exactly what they think about them and Thokozani Khupe would love to quickly forget her misadventures to these two countries this year.
What makes it easy for the United States to drag its allies into Iraq and to bomb the civilians of Iraq in the name of democracy is that the US in particular, and the' West in general, cares nothing about the welfare of people of colour such as Iraqis. On the other hand, President Mbeki cannot comprehend any form of democracy that requires the sanctioning and suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. The difference between President Mbeki and George W. Bush is that Mbeki would never ever bomb or deliberately starve the people of Zimbabwe for whatever cause while Bush will create whatever excuse he can in order to bomb any people whose resources his country's corporations covert.
President Mbeki can be showered with 10 BBC stories a night on alleged lack of democracy in Zimbabwe but that will never make him forget that there was no democracy in Zimbabwe before the coming of majority rule in 1980. He, like many of us do, knows that this democracy may be imperfect but it is the only democracy Zimbabwe has ever had and it came at a cost of tens of thousands of Zimbabwean lives as well as the lives of other Africans from Southern Africa.
This is the price the West wants to explain away as part of forgotten history but Africa will not easily let go of the prize of independence. Many of the MDC supporters will be the first to testify what it means to try to coerce Africa into giving away the liberation legacy. They have learnt that it is mission impossible as the current solidarity in smarting with Gordon Brown, whose empty threats over Lisbon have just made him a world-class clown; can easily reveal. One can almost hear the loud comforting words from the MDC supporters, particularly those in the UK -- "Oh don't worry Mr Brown, this dictator will one day die." Is this the last that a hopeless man can ever say?
President Mbeki and the generality of the ANC are quite clear that what is at stake in Zimbabwe is much more than democracy and the economic plight of the Zimbabweans. As for democracy, they are well aware that allegations of rigging elections levelled against Zanu-PF are not proven and for that they dismiss the subsequent sanctions by the EU, Commonwealth and the United States as illegal.
In fact the South African observer mission pronounced the 2002 presidential elections free and fair. On allegations of violence, the SA observer mission disagreed with the assertion that the MDC was a victim of one-sided, state-sponsored violence. The mission produced several reports that accused members of the opposition of intimidation of voters plus one damning report that implicated a youth gang from the opposition in attacks on a convoy of international observers in Kwekwe.
It is against this backdrop that the Western propaganda drive has had no takers among many in the ANC and certainly not with President Mbeki. He knows too well what kind of a party the MDC is and he knows just too well what the West mean when they claim to be after democracy in Zimbabwe. This clarity of mind has led President Mbeki to travel the road that has culminated in the current Sadc initiative -- an initiative quite stunning to the West, but vitally essential and acceptable to the African community in general and to all progressive Zimbabweans in particular.
Tsvangirai has in the past expressed anger at President Mbeki, clearly on behalf of his disgruntled Western masters. Him and his MDC have variously labelled President Mbeki a dishonest broker, a liar, weak in leadership and failing "to restore democracy" in Zimbabwe. Those who are accusing President Mbeki of relishing the status quo in Zimbabwe "for purposes of benefiting from the crisis" are clearly taking a mindless approach to his position.
It is naïve if not plain stupid to assume that a shrinking economy next door can be preferable to a thriving one, just because economic sense would tell that an economically strong neighbour is a better trading partner than a weaker one. South Africa is Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner in Africa and vice versa and it benefits neither country if one of the economies went on the decline.
If Zimbabwe is losing skilled manpower it is all because of the challenges brought about by the illegal sanctions imposed by the Western alliance and it has nothing to do with South Africa "dragging its feet on Zimbabwe" or enjoying poaching the skills of Zimbabweans. In fact if the truth were to be told, South Africa would have just worsened the situation if they had chosen to play the Western bidding on Zimbabwe. One can imagine the consequences if South Africa had cut off fuel and power supplies as requested by Tsvangirai. The suffering of the ordinary person would worsen and so would be the brain drain. If indeed South Africa can be better off with such a scenario then one would wonder why they just did not join the West in sanctioning Zimbabwe -- all for purposes of "benefiting more from the crisis".
The argument that President Mbeki enjoys the crisis in Zimbabwe is just ludicrous and the fact that it is raised from the MDC quarters is not at all surprising. This is the same MDC that says the only valid election results are those where its own candidates win. It is the same MDC that keeps telling the electorate that it will not participate in elections and then wonder why its supporters do not appear on the voters' role.
They do not register because their party keeps saying they wont be participating and the MDC cannot figure this out, opting to adopt the worn out claim that says it's all to do with Tobaiwa Mudede's supernatural rigging ways.
Well, it is the same MDC that thinks sanctions can cause an uprising and a change of government, isn't it?
Now that President Mbeki has taught pro-Tsvangirai MDC secretary general Tendayi Biti and pro-Arthur Mutambara faction secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube how to be Africans, one hopes the MDC will use the Mbeki-led initiative to mutate into an acceptable and responsible political party. Those who are crying for a combative Western-driven South Africa must come home to themselves and understand that Africa is a continent for black people and the time for puppet politics long ended with the likes of Moise Tshombe, Idi Amin and Mobutu Sese Seko.
It is time we Zimbabweans together with our South African brothers, indeed with the rest of Africa, show these Westerners that Africa can run its own affairs without their supervision. After all they are only our former oppressors and colonisers and we really have nothing to admire from them. Africa was liberated from Western domination and the idea was never that we liberate ourselves from the West in order to allow ourselves to be ruled by the West. Let the British tell Zimbabweans what we got for our forgiveness. What was our reward for not prosecuting Ian Smith for Chimoio and Nyadzonia? What did we get for allowing white farmers continuity on the lands stolen from our forefathers? What did we get for our policy of reconciliation at independence?
Equally, what was Nelson Mandela's reward for not prosecuting the butchers of Soweto? What did he get for allowing multinational corporations free reign in his country? What did the blacks of South Africa get for their forgiveness? Surely suspicious Nobel Peace Prizes, knighthoods and statues among ruthless slave traders and colonisers cannot count for Africa's reward for all the goodwill we have shown in dealing with our former oppressors. South Africa has the largest concentration of whites in Africa and the reconciliation experiment has not yielded any meaningful success for the ordinary black person and we do not want South Africa to turn out to be a lost opportunity for those currently enjoying its wealth at the expense of others. They should ask Claire Short and those who thought Zimbabwe's land issue could be explained away by simply refusing to wear the black armband of history.
This writer continues to wish well those involved in the Mbeki-led dialogue and we hope the long promised African solution has now dawned. Together we will overcome.