SA’s Zim policy simply needs to make the grade

2009-10-09 13:59

I WAS greatly moved by Elinor ­Sisulu’s analysis “I celebrate ­Mukoko’s freedom but cry for the others” (City Press of October 4).

The South African government can do a lot more if it had a credible foreign policy based on human rights and the rule of law, so tragically absent as Sisulu documents.

Our country doesn’t have a credible ­policy on Zimbabwe because we ­haven’t consistently applied diplomatic pressure on the ruling Zanu-PF to live up to the Global Political Agreement (GPA); we haven’t ­applied quiet but firm pressure through intelligence and defence on those around President Robert Mugabe to exit and not be spoilers; we haven’t invested in the unity government to get basic services restarted, without which the whole GPA deal is dead; and lastly we haven’t provided real assistance in helping the Zimbabwe government to normalise relations with the rest of the world, especially the IMF and the World Bank.

Does South Africa really support the GPA and see it as the way forward, or does South Africa provide a cover to keep Zanu-PF in place and weaken the opposition, MDC, until internal succession can be arranged?

Two weeks ago the US Senate’s foreign relations subcommittee on African Affairs held a hearing on Zimbabwe where South Africa came in for criticism for its wayward strategy on Zimbabwe. Todd Moss, a senior research fellow at the Center for Global Development, labelled SA’s contribution as “not sufficient to the task”.

South Africa needs to shift away from ad hoc-diplomatic engagement and move towards a diplomatic model premised on the identification of, and engagement on, key priorities and objectives. Only then can we help achieve a working democracy in Zimbabwe.

This is why I have called for a parliamentary debate on Zimbabwe and I am confident that we will soon have one.

Dr Wilmot James

DA’s MP and parliamentary representative to SADC’s Parliamentary Forum

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