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Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai wants him removed as mediator in Zimbabwe. It was only yesterday, almost three weeks after the Zimbabwe elections, that the SA government called for the result to be released, and it wasn’t Mr Mbeki saying it. And the critics have more ammunition…
Earlier this week he didn’t raise the situation in Zimbabwe at the UN, on Saturday after meeting Robert Mugabe he said there was ‘no crisis’. If he criticised the Zimbabwean President for not attending SADC talks in Lusaka he didn’t tell us.
We’ve also learned that a shipment of weapons from China and destined for Zimbabwe has arrived in Durban. Dockers are refusing to unload the ship, but the SA government won’t be getting involved. Here’s South African Defence Secretary January Masilela – “If the buyer is the Zimbabwean sovereign government and the seller is the Chinese sovereign government, South Africa has nothing to do with that”.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, ‘it’s time for Africa to step up’ on Zimbabwe. ‘Where is the concern from the African Union and from Zimbabwe’s neighbours about what is going on in Zimbabwe?” she asked. Where indeed many of you ask?
Mr. Mbeki says the solution in Zimbabwe lies ‘in Zimbabwe’ and that only Zanu-PF and the MDC can resolve it. He also has the power to arrange meetings with Robert Mugabe that few can match. ‘Quiet diplomacy’ has long been his style, and some would point to a similar tactic used by Kofi Annan in Kenya.
So is it hypocritical for those who gave Kofi Annan time, to demand Thabo Mbeki take a blunter approach to Zimbabwe? Stand-offs of this type can spiral into conflicts that last year. If he is treading carefully, maybe that should be applauded?
There’s no shortage of criticism of the SA President, but is much of it coming from people outside of Africa and with little feel for the dynamics and the history that dominate the continent?
Do you think President Mbeki’s conduct has been a disgrace?