15 July 2017

Zimbabwe: Mbeki Says Was Right On Zimbabwe, Says British Policy Always Driven By Kith and Kin Interests

Photo: IRIN
President Robert Mugabe and former president Thabo Mbeki (file photo).

President Thabo Mbeki has refused to be persuaded otherwise with regards his controversial stance towards the Zimbabwe Crisis insisting that the British policy towards Harare has always been aimed at protecting the white minority interests.

"So you are surprised when the UK continues to pay this particular attention to Zimbabwe. Their paying attention to Zimbabwe is not because they are interested in the future of Zimbabwe, but because they are interested in the future of their kith and kin. That's what drove the British policy on Zimbabwe," said Mbeki.

Mbeki also insisted that he was right to refuse to be pushed into acting against President Robert Mugabe's government because it was and still is the duty of Zimbabweans to resolve their differences.

"In the interest of reviewing conflict there, the view we took then which I would hold on to today is that it really is the responsibility of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their future; its responsibility of the people of South Africans to determine our future," said Mbeki.

The former SA leader also refused to accept that he did not do enough following the state sponsored violence that erupted during the 2008 runoff elections.

"They talk about things that cannot be compared. An Apartheid South Africa is very different from an independent Zimbabwe. You say you want to impose sanctions on apartheid, of course you can, of course you must but to resolve a problem amongst Zimbabweans in independent Zimbabwe our view was and remains; let the Zimbabweans come together and sort out this thing among themselves," said Mbeki.

He added, "Particularly because, given among other things, all my experience tells me, an external solution that gets imposed on the people, when something goes wrong, the owners won't take ownership of it, they will say this thing is not ours."

"To make an agreement stick and so on you have to make the owners of the problem to own the solution and that's what we said to Zimbabwe. In the end they entered into negotiations which we facilitated and they concluded what we called the Global Political Agreement."

Mbeki further said the British and others joined the mantra against his style of diplomacy because of their selfish interests.

"The problem we had, the reason you have this funny argument that we resorted to quiet diplomacy, diplomacy is diplomacy, once you campaign on a platform it's not diplomacy but a political campaign. For example, the reason the British joined that chorus is because they wanted regime changed."

He added that part of the west's interests in Zimbabwe was that it had a sizeable number of white people after independence.

"You still had a number of white people in Zimbabwe after independence. Part of the argument used by Margaret Thatcher when she was against the imposition of sanctions against the Smith regime was that we have a lot of kith and kin in Zimbabwe.

If we impose sanctions which actually work, you will then get half a million or a quarter of a million Zimbabweans or whatever emigrating to England and suddenly we will be landed with large refugee population from Zimbabwe. This was Thatcher's argument and we don't want to do that and therefore that's why we don't want to impose sanctions," Mbeki said.

He added, "It was the same argument when Smith declared that UDI in 1965. The PM of the UK at the time was Harold Wilson of the Labour party and again the Africans took the position that this a rebellion against the British Crown and where ever you had the rebellion against British Crown, the British Crown has responded in order to supress the rebellion and let that happen to Zimbabwe.

But the argument of the British government at the time was that this is kith and kin."

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