Mbeki and Mugabe
Here are some extracts:
[Thabo Mbeki:] Mbeki’s fundamental position was that, as a fellow national liberation movement (NLM), Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF had to be maintained in power at all costs. According to this theory, the NLMs of southern Africa are those movements which used armed struggle to overthrow white rule – that is, the ruling parties of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.Previous: Chinese arms/repression in Zimbabwe, Solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, Stop Chinese Arms Shipments to the Zimbabwean Regime!, Defending Zimbabwe
In Mbeki’s and Mugabe’s minds Western imperialism is engaged in a struggle to overthrow the NLMs and restore, if it can, the preceding regimes – apartheid, colonialism or white settler rule. In so doing it will use various local parties as lackeys: Inkatha and the Democratic Alliance in South Africa, Renamo in Mozambique, Unita in Angola – and the MDC in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is the weakest link here, which means that the other NLMs must defend Zanu-PF to the death, for if Zimbabwe ‘falls’ South Africa will be the next target.Ever since the Zimbabwe crisis first erupted in 2000, Mbeki had seen it as his role to support Mugabe (while insisting that he was using ‘quiet diplomacy’ to solve the problem) and give him time to carry through his land revolution (i.e. to get rid of the white farmers), extirpate the imperialist lackeys of the MDC, and restabilise his country, with Zanu-PF then regaining its de facto position of unchallenged single party in a re-equilibrated Zimbabwe. [...]
[After the elections:] At this stage Mbeki, continuously on the phone from Pretoria and with his own emissaries in Harare, intervened. Could not the results be ‘adjusted’ so that Tsvangirai was brought back under the 50 per cent mark, while Mugabe got 41 per cent and Makoni 10-12 per cent? With no candidate getting more than 50 per cent there would have to be a run-off; Mugabe would then withdraw, leaving Zanu-PF to rally behind Makoni and, provided the security forces were given a strong role in the way the run-off was conducted, Makoni could be given just over 50 per cent and Tsvangirai kept out. This was acceptable to all parties except Mugabe, who again refused to stand down. Dismay and indecision followed – and serious discussion of a military coup. In the end that idea was discarded for fear that it might tempt a British military intervention.[...]
[Rats deserting the sinking ship:] The house belonged to the former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, convicted in absentia of genocide but shielded for many years now by Mugabe. The soldier advanced threateningly. I said I’d come to see Mr Mengistu. ‘He is not in.’ I asked if he’d gone away and was told that he had and that, like Titus Oates, he ‘might be away some time’. Mengistu’s alternative choice of exile is probably North Korea. So, if he’d done a runner, Mugabe really was in trouble.[...]
[The aftermath:] [Mbeki] and Mugabe clearly live in a paranoid world all of their own. There’s no knowing what they might attempt before the final Götterdämmerung... Seen this way the drama of Zimbabwe may indeed prefigure a more general crisis as these movements age and decay. We have seen enough of movements that believe they will remain to see the state wither away or to usher in a thousand-year Reich to know that bringing them to accept a less intransigent view of themselves is seldom a gentle business.
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