‘I am done with Mugabe’

2013-07-29 00:00

WHEN I read a report that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had failed to agree on whether to postpone the elections in Zimbabwe by another two weeks to ensure all logistics are in order, I was not surprised in the least.

To be quite honest, the Zimbabwe situation, especially in the past five to 10 years, would be very comical were it not so serious, as it involves people’s lives not only in that country, but in the SADC region as well.

In fact, it could be said that the Zimbabwe issue is proving as unsolvable as the never-ending situation in the Middle East.

As for me, I am done with Robert Mugabe. I lost all respect for him after his tirade against the respected Lindiwe Zulu, who is international relations adviser to President Jacob Zuma, calling her a “street girl”.

For me, there can never be any justification for someone in such a high position to hurl insults at anyone who is involved in trying to find a solution to the vexing problem of Zimbabwe.

I am equally disappointed with South African civil society for its deafening silence and for not condemning Mugabe’s ridiculous and unwarranted utterances against Zulu. Our civil society can normally be relied upon to raise hell when there is evidence of gender abuse.

I find it difficult to understand why Zulu did not receive support from all the gender and human rights organisations.

Could it be because she is an adviser to Zuma, whom the very same community loves to abuse and insult?

Well, if that was the reason for their muted defence of Zulu, then it is most unfortunate and it renders all their earlier posturing on similar situations not only unprincipled, but also populist.

True, Zimbabwe played an important role during our struggle against apartheid, and suffered greatly for its support.

The national broad liberation movement, including the ANC, PAC and the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania, has acknowledged that role many times.

However, the ongoing political shenanigans in Zimbabwe have now tested those who had always supported Mugabe’s cause, as well as those who have always found his arguments wanting.

Mugabe’s beef with the British government, namely that the English had undertaken, all those years ago at Lancaster House, to help the newly independent state with regard to land redistribution, was not baseless.

A whole decade elapsed from the time of liberation in 1980 to 1990 without the promised financial assistance forthcoming. Now Zimbabwe is a country with a significant number of people who are peasants, and consequently the country relies on the land for survival.

With freedom, ordinary Zimbabweans expected that the new black government would ensure that they got land. In short, Zimbabweans wanted land in return for their role in chimurenga, Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence. But most of the land was in the hands of commercial white farmers, a situation that could not be allowed to go on unchecked.

Mugabe had to do something if he was to retain his credibility in the eyes of the poor majority. The only problem is that when he did start to distribute the land, he went about it in the wrong way. Many reports accused him of giving land to his friends, cabinet ministers and the war veterans.

It is important to dispel the notion that we do not know what is going on in Zimbabwe. South Africans know, as we have been living with Zimbabweans here, for a long time now.

We have tried to do our bit to alleviate the situation. From former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki to current President Jacob Zuma, South Africa has dealt with Zimbabwe, often at great cost to us, politically, economically and otherwise.

At one point, Cosatu, noting the deteriorating situation in that country, tried to intervene, but Mugabe, true to form, trashed all those attempts.

Many who have desired peace and prosperity for the people of Zimbabwe have said it many times, and now I, too, have been persuaded.

Mugabe has to go in order for Zimbabwe to have any reasonable chance at peace and prosperity.

He is old and has been president of the ruling Zanu-PF and head of state for far too long.

He simply has to go for our collective sanity.

• Bhungani ka Mzolo is a social and media commentator based in Pretoria.

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