Desire for tougher stance against Mugabe

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

The mediation role SA has played in bringing both Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change to sign the now defunct agreement on a government of national unity will continue to put the soon-to-be-elected government under pressure to intervene in the Zimbabwean situation.

A recent statement by ANC president Jacob Zuma denouncing Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe has raised hopes that the South African government will adopt a more forthright approach to the situation.

Zuma joined many world leaders, including Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who have come out against what they see as Mugabe's determination to run that country into the ground.

Zuma said Mugabe was "no more his comrade" because no comrade of his could do what Mugabe was doing to his own people. They are living in abject poverty and under the kind of oppression not that different from the kind they suffered under the Rhodesian colonial government, Zuma said.

Political analyst Sipho Seepe believes that under Zuma South Africa will discard the "quiet diplomacy" approach to Zimbabwe and become more vociferous in its stance in agreement with Botswana and Kenya.

But he points out that Zimbabwe cannot reach an agreeable solution to its political and economic crisis "as long as Mugabe is still in the picture".

What is needed is for Mugabe to go and for Zanu-PF to transform itself into a modern political party that will freely engage in democratic processes such as elections, says Seepe.

He also believes that the recent mutiny by Zimbabwean police, who were not paid, could sow the seed of introspection among members of the Mugabe circle, who might then express their concern about Mugabe's behaviour.

Seepe argues that such a scenario could make Mugabe realise that his "circle of support is cracking" and make him amenable to finding a solution that would see him stepping down.

"We are hoping that, just as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the collective conscience of those who formed the circle of support for Laurent Kabila saw them rising against him, the same could happen with Mugabe's supporters," Seepe says.

Mugabe's support is mainly from generals and heads of security, some of whom have publicly declared that they would not allow Zimbabwe to be ruled by someone who was not part of the armed struggle against the Rhodesian colonial regime, referring to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The general agreement among most political commentators is that Zimbabwe will never find peace as long as it involves Robert Mugabe.