Zimbabwe: South Africa’s continued shame

By Roy Bennett

The recent statement by Keith Khoza, spokesperson for the African National Congress, that the party continues to support Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF is shameful and perplexing.

Keith Khoza, spokesperson for the African National Congress
Keith Khoza, spokesperson for the African National Congress

It comes against the background of ZANU-PF’S active support of Julius Malema, and numerous derogatory comments aimed by ZANU-PF at President Jacob Zuma, Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa, Lindiwe Zulu and many other ANC luminaries.

But Khoza’s statement should be seen in the context of a ten-year background of collusion initiated by former President Thabo Mbeki.

Indeed, in 2008 I personally reminded President Mbeki during a meeting with MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai that, as a mediator who had sided blatantly with ZANU-PF, he had the blood of Zimbabwean citizens on his hands.

Mbeki’s complicity continues to haunt Zuma’s Presidency. The office of the presidency continues to refuse to make public the findings of a government report on Zimbabwe’s disputed 2002 elections. The report was compiled by two of South Africa’s most respected judges, appointed by Mbeki.

Everyone knows their findings will shame South Africa. The scale and savagery unleashed upon innocent citizens of Zimbabwe by ZANU-PF over twenty years constitutes tribalism and racism that have, in turn, effectively resulted in ethnic cleansing

For the African National congress—the party of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Beyers Naude and so many other superb role models—to embrace Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF is utterly contradictory. Is Khoza speaking for the ANC as a whole? We would like to know.

Khoza suggests that ZANU-PF deserves ANC support since it is ‘Experienced in Government’. It is simply incredible that the ANC should indicate official support for for a political party headed by an 89 year-old who has held absolute power for over thirty years.

Aside from massive human rights abuses, every economic indicator in Zimbabwe shows Khoza’s claim to be absurd. ZANU-PF has reduced the country from a bread basket to a basket case in ten short years.

As a spin-doctor, Khoza must also deal with the uncomfortable truth that ANC structures themselves coined the term ‘Zanufication’. This popular figure of speech is widely used in South Africa, and encapsulates everything incompetent, authoritarian and corrupt.

While South Africans deservedly celebrate Human Rights Day, the reality in Zimbabwe is different. As I write this, my brave friend, the internationally-respected human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, languishes in a filthy prison cell merely for daring to represent her clients.

Photographs in the media of this wonderful, resilient woman, shows her dragged to court in the back of a pick-up vehicle. Such images should insult every person’s sense of dignity. Can one imagine the outrage if George Bizos was dragged to court in a similar fashion?

These abuses come as a new Zimbabwean constitution is being trumpeted as the

solution for the nation’s ills. The previous constitution, flawed though it was, had a strong Bill of Rights that in, practical terms, meant nothing. The new piece of paper will not solve Zimbabwe’s problems.

We Zimbabweans demand that which the people of South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, now take for granted: free and fair elections.

ZIMBABWEANS WANT CHANGE. We need hope, jobs and much needed investment in every sector of the economy. The people simply cannot eat Liberation rhetoric. Wherever I go in the world, young Zimbabweans clamour for change.

More than anything else they look to political leadership that they can trust. They wish to be served by a party that genuinely has their interests at heart. They must be allowed to choose who they want. South Africa should play its part as a neutral mediator and quit meddling in our domestic politics.

Roy Bennett, Senator, Treasurer General, Movement For Democratic Change

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