Let Motlanthe forge Zim deal

2008-10-22 00:00

Earlier this year Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections were decisively won by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), but because of intimidation by the Zanu-PF, the MDC felt obliged to boycott the subsequent presidential election, which meant that Robert Mugabe was declared to have won. Although he agreed to share power with the MDC, he’s lately been blocking the fair distribution of cabinet posts and the power-sharing deal looked at the point of collapse. In attempt to prevent this, the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) troika on peace, politics and security was due to meet in Mbabane, Swaziland this week — except that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is not attending because the government has not renewed his expired passport.

Reacting to this on Monday, DA Foreign Affairs spokesman Joe Seremane urged President Kgalema Motlanthe to mobilise SADC and insist that Mugabe share key ministries, or else face the prospect that SADC will no longer recognise the government. This, unfortunately, ignores the fact that SADC has, so far, been spineless regarding Zimbabwe, and there’s no indication that there’s an iron hand inside that particular velvet glove. In addition, Seremane suggested that Motlanthe should break from former SA president Thabo Mbeki’s “softly-softly” approach: this has produced no solutions to Zimbabwe’s plight, he says, but has instead helped extend Mugabe’s grip on power. Many must wonder why, in view of his ineffectual record — and his inappropriately reverential treatment of Mugabe — Mbeki has again been sent to “facilitate” negotiations.

The crisis in our northern neighbour seems unending. The economy is completely wrecked, inflation is out of sight, and although upper political echelons still live very well, enormous numbers live below the bread line, trade and commerce are dwindling, infrastructure is crumbling and it’s likely that there will be no harvest this summer season. As the chair of SADC, South Africa has the leverage to make a tough move, and it’s up to Motlanthe, reasonable, fair, unobtrusively intelligent, to step in, insist that SADC properly fulfil its monitoring role and so force the change that must come as soon as possible if Zimbabwe is to have any chance of rehabilitation.

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