President Robert Mugabe and former South African President Thabo Mbeki
HARARE – Former South African President Thabo Mbeki — one of the fiercest backers of President Robert Mugabe and the Zanu PF regime — has admitted that the ruling party is holding Zimbabwe back in terms of development.
In an interview with a South African radio station on Thursday night, Mbeki said even prior to the Government of National Unity (GNU) between Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was the prime minister, the African National Congress (ANC) had written a critique on Zanu PF that among other things highlighted the rot in Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s watch.
Asked by his host if Zimbabwe is progressing as it should under Mugabe’s stewardship, Mbeki said: “Zimbabwe is not where it is supposed to be, they have failed to implement the GPA (Global Political Agreement).”
The GPA is the document which was agreed on by Mugabe and Tsvangirai to form the short-lived but stability-inducing unity government.
Among other agreements that were contained in the GPA that was brokered by Mbeki were the need for security sector reforms, constitutional changes, a land audit and liberalisation of the media.
However, the MDC blamed Zanu PF for stalling the full implementation of the GPA, with the ruling party only making piece-meal concessions.
Asked whether the ANC has been approaching Zanu PF as a former liberation movement and not taking decisive action to save the situation and helping Mugabe — Mbeki repeated his noninterference stance.
“…Mugabe has every possibility to help himself. The first people to approach us were the MDC and the first thing they asked was the amendment of the Constitution and I had to meet president Mugabe at the airport when he was going to Malaysia or Indonesia and said to him president the MDC had engaged us.
“In the end, we actually prepared a 40-page critique of what was happening in Zimbabwe and sent it to Zanu PF. The ANC wanted to say to Zanu PF you are doing wrong, but the document was leaked.
“In the context of resolving the conflict there, the view we took was that it is the duty of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their future,” Mbeki said.
He was often accused of being soft on Mugabe as he shredded the GPA.
Mbeki dismissed suggestions that he pursued quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe.
“Our view is let the people of Zimbabwe get together and resolve their problems; an external solution is not good enough. When something goes wrong, people will blame the foreigners. The problem we had, the reason you had this funny argument that we had quiet diplomacy is because the British wanted regime change…they are paying attention to Zimbabwe not because they are interested in the future of Zimbabwe, but because of their interests,” said Mbeki.
While Mbeki has been steadfast in his approach on Zimbabwe, there is a growing feeling among South African politicians that Mugabe should now step aside and pave way for fresh blood.
Economic Freedom Front leader Julius Malema and the Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane have both angered Zanu PF by demanding that the nonagenarian step down.
Meanwhile, thousands of Zimbabweans are holed up in South Africa mostly as undocumented economic and political refugees.