Mbeki desperate to remain relevant
By Benjamin Semwayo
When we all thought that Thabo Mbeki, the former President of South Africa who was consigned to the dust bins of history, had settled in his new territory, he has reappeared, spewing his characteristic garbage. His successor, Jacob Zuma, once described him as a decapitated snake. Now his apparition has emerged to warn all and sundry against resisting Mugabe, his partner in crime in violating the rights of Zimbabweans.
Zuma is certainly turning in his political grave in the South African wilderness, and as malicious as he has always been, has leapt to Mugabe’s defence against the voices of reason among South African politicians who feel Mugabe has abused Zimbabweans for too long and must now be reined in.
Leave it to Zimbabweans to reject their own leader, he admonishes his compatriots, conveniently ‘forgetting’ they rejected him resoundingly during his tenure as the South African head of state, and instead of respecting the verdict of the people he let him off the hook.
That this comes at a time when we had all but forgotten that he ever existed must forebode ill for Mugabe. Perhaps in the land of the politically dead that he is living in he saw the doom that is stalking Mugabe, that will reveal itself at the next election, and felt compelled to play the part that he had always faithfully played in his earlier life, that of protecting Mugabe from being toppled. It is certainly a harbinger of some seismic event when a headless snake starts talking.
Mbeki has gone down history as the most hated foreign in Zimbabwe for abetting Mugabe’s litany of crimes including the mass murder of thousands of political activists, rigging elections, ruling illegally and causing poverty on a grand scale in a country that was one of the most prosperous in Africa and on course to become a global economic powerhouse.
Mbeki clearly has no inkling how much anger the mention of his name generates in Zimbabwe. Thousands of funerals were held in Zimbabwe as people mourned lives that were curtailed prematurely on Mugabe’s whims, and when they looked to Mbeki for protection in his capacity as the Head of a powerful neighbouring country and Chairman of SADC, he gave his nod, not to the legitimate request of the innocent downtrodden, but to the heinous actions of his northern counterpart, for which he must have been rewarded plenteously.
In doing that he demonstrated a shocking lack of conscience, caring only for material gains.
World leaders along the length and breadth of the globe condemned Mugabe acutely, but Mbeki stood by him, sweeping under the carpet all his sickening atrocities while assuring the world that he was doing something behind the scenes through his myopic ‘quiet diplomacy’, and the results would be seen soon, but his comrade’s conduct only got worse. Now even with the benefit of hindsight he has still not got it and soldiers on in his desire to see Mugabe protected against replacement.
Mbeki has caught the ire of people not only in Zimbabwe, but also in his country. Although it happened many years ago, it still defies all logic and beggars belief that a man of his stature and calibre would deny his subjects treatment for HIV and AIDS because he believed they did not exist, resulting in the deaths of millions of people who could otherwise have been saved, for which he became the laughing stalk of the world and became unpopular in his own country.
As it happens, Mbeki is wrong on just about everything, which is why when he left the political stage many hoped he had gone for good and would not be heard from again. It boggles the mind how he landed the presidency when traditionally at the chief’s court it was mentally bankrupt men of his sort who were tasked with skinning an animal while men endowed with insight and wisdom deliberated important issues.
To the Ordinary Zimbabwean, Mbeki is a wanted man whose hands drip with the blood of innocent men, women and children. He can do Zimbabwe a favour by keeping his views to himself not meddling in matters that do not concern him. As it is he has done irreparable harm, and by continuing to express sentiments that cause offence he is simply adding insult to injury.
But the saddest thing is that he is the typical African president. Many of Africa’s presidents are of Mbeki’ quality. The bane of these presidents is that they are not elected on merit, but assume office through all sorts of devious ways, including blatantly rigging elections, which violates the rights of nearly a billion people.