In 1994 "Arise Sir Robert," or something to that effect was murmured by her majesty, the Queen, and indeed did arise Sir Robert Mugabe, Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Bath. (In the same fashion of Douglas MacArthur.)
Today Sir Robert was stripped of his knighthood. Today, the not-now-at-all Sir Robert's legacy as a hero of independence from the same crown that knighted and then un-knighted him was tarnished a bit by the venerable Nelson Mandela who had no kind words for the feeble condition of Zimbabwe nor it's octogenarian tyrant as he reflected on the current state of global events. His specific mention of Zimbabwe was brief but telling:
Nearer to home we had seen the outbreak of violence against fellow Africans in our own country and the tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe.I wonder if that "similar outbreak of violence against fellow African's" might not have much to do with South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki's reticence to address the issue of Mugabe. Said violence was a xenophobic backlash against refugees from neighboring countries, including Zimbabwe. Conceivably, official criticism from Mbeki could re-embolden the now cowed opposition in Zimbabwe and excite (as the above cited article suggests) something of a civil war that results in a larger wave of cross border refugee's. The effect of which might instigate more xenophobic violence in South Africa.
The media I read and hear point to Mugabe's hero status as reason for South Africa's President failing to take him to task. I wonder; Mbeki's hope could well be that Mugabe clings to power, reaffirms his dictatorship and stems the tide of displaced Zimbabweans. As of May, 2008 the number of refugees stood between that of 3 to 5 million from various countries, Somali and Zimbabwe seeming to stand out as the majority. That's roughly 10% of South Africa's population in a scant few years. It's not hard to fathom Mbeki hoping for an easy road to stability in Zimbabwe and preferring the tyranny of Mugabe over the spectre of civil war should Morgan Tsingirai be resurrected and assume power. Pure conjecture, of course, but is Mbeki the realist to Mandela's fading idealist star?
4 years ago