Monday, June 13, 2011
Does This Indicate A Shift of Policy Towards Zimbabwe?
If there is any country in the world with the power to force change in Zimbabwe it is South Africa, it has the muscle to get attention from Zanu PF. I have mentioned it here before when I was really frustrated by the idiotic quite diplomacy that Mbeki, the then President of South Africa and SADC appointed facilitator on Zimbabwe. The failure of such a ill-thought policy is well documented, any hope to salvage Zimbabwe worsened from 2000, thousands were brutally murdered, tortured, persecuted, forced to flee their country of birth, service delivery and maintenance of infrastructure broke down. Yet Mbeki stuck to his guns like an idiot he would not budge, he could not be persuaded even the evidence of deaths of thousands of MDC activists, the reports of torture camps, murambatsvina, disputed election results and the arbitrary arrests of activists could not make him change his mind.
I never expected Zuma to change, after all he was Mbeki's deputy and he had endorsed and supported ANC's stance towards Zimbabwe. He too argued the same tired argument that differences in Africa are dealt with differently he too was not a fan of megaphone diplomacy. So I expected South Africa to continue with its quite diplomacy which had failed Zimbabwe and its citizens gravely. The reason for the policy are not hard to see any endorsements for a labour backed party would have sent a wrong message not only to the region but to South Africa itself. South Africa has the largest labour union in Africa in terms of members, even though Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) is a partner with the ruling ANC in their triparte alliance with SACP, recently the labour body is getting frustrated by their ruling partner. Not so long ago Zwelinzima Vavi warned of the dangers of South Africa becoming a banana republic. I do not want to divert and start discussing what is happening in South Africa now in terms of corruption but it is important to know that the same trickle down economics is what brought Zimbabwe to what it is now and its alive in South Africa.
Its no doubt that the events in Egypt and Tunisia and now Libya have shaken the African dictators. For the first time the dictators know that if there is no meaningful change the people will rise up. The once slumber club of ageing African dictators is now pressuring Mugabe to ensure that democratic reforms outlined in the GPA are adhered to in full before a general election can be called. It comes hot on the heels of the sharp rebuke that SADC had issued in March calling for an end to violence and their insistence that reforms proposed in the GPA are fully implemented. The change of tact could be attributed to the Arab uprisings which have toppled two dictatorships so far and still threatens to take in more, the other important one is that Zuma has had enough of Zimbabwe.
His plate is full with his own country's problems as it grapples 40% unemployment, a frustrated constituent which is increasingly becoming restless if the recent service delivery riots are to be used as a barometer. The other reason why Zuma is changing tact is his annoyance as being portrayed as uneducated, inept with a poor grasp of statesmanship. One visible mistake by Zanu PF which might have triggered the SADC to come down hard on Mugabe like a ton of bricks is their PR's dog Jonathan Moyo's foul mouthed rant at the SADC appointed facilitator Zuma. South Africa was curt in its response to the attack saying that they are not concerned about opinions who are outside the negoatiations. Yet the most recent heated exchange between Mugabe and Zuma, clearly indicate that he has had enough of the Zanu PF charade. What started off as diplomatic deliberations deteriorated after Mugabe challenged the facilitators report presented to the SADC Troika meeting in Zambia at the end of March. An angry Zuma is said to have bluntly told Mugabe; “I do not manufacture things, my reports are based on things that are happening in the country, based on facts.” Desperate to save face Zanu PF also claimed they had not been given a copy of the report before-hand.
I could be wrong in thinking that Zuma or even SADC for that matter are beginning to get tough on Mugabe but only time will tell. The recently issued communique on Zimbabwe does not still address the time-line for the implementation of reforms that are outlined in the GPA. Nor does it spell out what will happen if Zanu PF does not comply with the GPA. However the shift in tone is noted and welcomed.