The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund has withdrawn support for the Nelson Mandela Invitational Golf Tournament hosted by Gary Player, due to Player’s golf course design firm having built a course in Burma. The tournament will also have to drop ‘Nelson Mandela’ from the tournament title.
But what about more concrete actions that help the Burmese junta stay in power. Actions such as international trade. Well according to the Department of Foreign Affairs:
South Africa mostly exports base metals, chemical products, prepared foodstuffs and mineral products to Myanmar and imports mostly footwear, headgear, vegetable products and machinery from Myanmar.
And what about actions on the global diplomatic stage? On that front SA joined Russia and China in opposing a UN Security Council vote condemning the Burmese government’s long and varied list of human rights abuses.
Perhaps that the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund will allow the tournament to go ahead with the stipulation that it is hosted in another country who does not trade with Burma.
Yet another high ranking ANC member has come out against the Mugabe government in Zimbabwe. While Kader Asmal is no longer a cabinet minister he is still a repsected figure in the ANC.
Why did I not speak before. I should have, I should have spoken as an internationalist who invoked international campaigning for apartheid South Africa” and was now speaking as a “proud citizen of a free South Africa who should have spoken out and campaigned against a regime which has brought Zimbabwe to its knees.
Probably because like most ANC politicians in government you put party above all else and you’d rather keep a cushy cabinet job than have Thabo Mbeki fire you. An interesting point that Asmal repeats is that Mugabe didn’t suddenly turn into some tyrant over night. He’s been happily killing his own people since shortly after he took over power in 1980.
Why do I speak now? I should have done so in the 1980s, when thousands of people were murdered by the infamous Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland.
Whoa! Finally a high ranking government official, Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni, has finally stated the obvious: Zimbabwe is not getting better despite Thabo Mbeki repeatedly telling us that silent diplomacy is working and a negotiated end to the economic woes is just around the corner.
Mboweni also said Zimbabwe’s seizure of white-owned farms by government-backed militia in neighbouring Zimbabwe was “a total disaster,” and that successful economies demanded that governments respect property rights.
“Things are beginning to move from bad to worse,” Mboweni said.
And with that talk about respecting property rights you’d think he was in the Thatcher administration rather than being a member of a socialist leaning party?
According to the British government, China is to withdraw backing from Zimbabwe. This is huge as China was probably the largest supplier of foreign currency to Zimbabwe. If this doesn’t somehow push Mugabe out of power I expect that there will be some major crackdowns on opposition parties and the economic situation to get even worse leading to a renewed wave of Zimbabwean political and economic refugees crossing into SA.
Sometimes even the golden boy of SA politics, Trevor Manuel, is so bound by the rules of obedience to the party that he’s forced to utter some non-sensical mutterings every now and then (we hope). Take his recent statements in parliament over that constant thorn in the government’s side, our northern neighbour Zimbabwe:
“We must encourage Zimbabweans to solve their own problems. That is the most we can do because the decisions have to be carried by Zimbabweans into perpetuity,” Manuel said in a heated exchange in parliament.
“For those who don’t understand, I ask that President Bush recruit them and send them to Iraq,” a visibly angry Manuel said amid heckling from opposition lawmakers.
“Then they will understand what regime change is about.”
Sure the Zimbabweans have to make the change themselves but it’s a bit hard to do so when you’re starving and the army and police seem to be getting all the food. Also the quiet diplomacy tactic is a bit strange when you consider the considerable international support the ANC raised against the Nationalist Apartheid regime.
Manuel – one of Africa’s most experienced and respected finance ministers – said that South Africa would not squander South African taxpayers’ money by bailing out the ailing Zimbabwe economy.
“We can not… decide what kind of economy the Zimbabweans must have. They must get the prices to work, they must drive the changes. We can’t commit financial resources …”
Well if we’re not going to be spending taxpayer money on Zimbabwe I assume we’ll be cutting those Eskom powerlines into Zimbabwe pretty soon? Also I would think my taxes which are spent on social services for the 4000 to 5000 Zimbabweans who jump the border every day might be better spent on SA citizens first.
And then Foreign Minister Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma will keep digging:
South Africa has blamed Britain for the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe by accusing the United Kingdom of leading a campaign to “strangle” the beleaguered African state’s economy and saying it has a “death wish” against a negotiated settlement that might leave Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF in power.
According to a South African government document circulating among diplomats ahead of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit this week, President Thabo Mbeki will paint an optimistic picture of his efforts to broker an agreement between Mugabe and the Zimbabwean opposition.
“South Africa is a signatory to many UN conventions. We cannot impose a refugee status on people who do not want to be refugees. We will be doing that if we set up a refugee camp… and that will be against the UN regulation,” Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nquakula said in a televised interview.
She described most Zimbabweans who illegally enter the country as “economic migrants” who had no intention of settling but wanted only to buy food.
And pray tell how many ‘asylum seekers’ have applied for visas to SA at our embassy in Harare? Of course why apply at all when the border is wide open anyway.
If you asked government today what is the strategic goal for South Africa in relation to the rest of the continent I bet the answer would probably be something along the lines of: “To be the driving economic force on the continent and to be a strong influence on African governments”. Unfortunately for the SA government in a few short years that phrase may apply to China more than it does SA.
China is investing billions in Africa and in doing so is quickly becoming the “go to” government for infrastructure investment. The May issue of Maverick has an article about the massive investments China is making in special economic zones in Zambia, Mauritius, Nigeria and Tanzania. China is aiming to lock up massive amounts of raw and mineral resources from central Africa and is investing in railways and manufacturing.
All this investment always has a political price attached and should SA and China ever differ on some issue it will be interesting to see who the African countries that have received Chinese investment stand behind.
Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of Thabo Mbeki, that is. He is refreshingly forthright in his opinions despite the fact that he is Thabo’s kid brother. He previously called Zuma a puppet with no policy of his own, he believes BEE in it’s current form is just as bad as colonialism and now he has come out strongly in criticism of Thabo’s strategy on Zimbabwe:
He was highly critical of South Africa’s policy on Zimbabwe, saying the government was contributing to the crisis by insisting that Zimbabwe had a democracy when it clearly had fallen victim to a party dictatorship.
Asked during question time whether armed intervention and/or sanctions by South Africa would work, Mbeki said “no state can rule out the use of force”. It would normally have the monopoly over such force and would use it if it was in the national interest.
It was now in South Africa’s national interest to restore democracy to Zimbabwe and rebuild its economy to accommodate its 80 percent jobless, most of whom had streamed into neighbouring countries.
And you can quote me on that. I had to put my head in my hands and breath deeply for a few seconds to avoid punching my monitor after reading this quote:
For instance people say there is no food in Zimbabwe but this is nonsense. There is food, it’s just very expensive.
I wouldn’t be suprised when told that bread is scarce in Harare he replies: “Let them eat cake”.
And it gets worse:
As serious as he was in 2005 after the Zimbabwean parliamentary elections when he told members of his SABC editorial staff that it was a lie that there was no food in Zimbabwe and that people were starving.
Back then he had told a group of journalists (and others) that during his stay in the Sheraton in Harare he had in fact enjoyed freshly baked bread rolls daily.
He added that he had also had no trouble ordering Johnny Walker Black and even mineral water. And what’s more, he insisted triumphantly, he had even got room service to bring it to him so what the hell was everyone on about?
I can’t believe this political apparatchik is still in charge of SABC News.
Nothing gives me that warm fuzzy feeling more than when a government official doesn’t seem to understand quite exactly what the roles and responsibilities of the press are. This week it’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs talking about the media and the current crisis in Zimbabwe.
He called on the media to work with government in trying to find a solution in the neighbouring country.
Because helping out the administration clean up their bungled foreign policy is the media’s job.
P.S. The DRC (another of Thabo Mbeki’s pet African projects) is not looking too hot now either, would you like the Mail & Guardian to handle it for you?