The Assigned Role of South Africa in the Internationalisation of the Zimbabwean National Problems
By Sehlare Makgetlaneng, PhD
Submitted: August 06, 2008
Posted: September 16, 2008
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in its address to the national situation has been focusing on the political governance. Its position is that since in its inception as the opposition political party, the country has not been governed democratically and that it has structurally been prevented from winning credible, transparent, free and fair elections. In other words, for the country to have credible, transparent, free and fair elections, President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) will lose elections.
The MDC has decided not only to go beyond the issue of not addressing itself to the issue of Imperialism and other related issues such as neo-colonialism, north-south relations and globalisation, but also to seek material support from the social and organisational forces of Imperialism. It is an ally of Imperialism in its struggle to be in power in Zimbabwe.
The consequence is that the MDC has been de-legitimising its cause in the eyes of the forces opposed to Imperialism and neo-colonialism. This stems from its lack of appropriate strategy and tactics. This socio-historical development has led to its profound theoretical and practical weaknesses. These weaknesses have led it to accumulate and sustain theoretical and practical mistakes in its struggle to be in power in Zimbabwe.
As a means to solve this problem, the MDC has internationalised its national struggle to be in power in the country. Together with its allies, it has shifted the responsibility to solve Zimbabwe's national problems to external actors. These external actors are African leaders.
The fact is that South Africa is the regional power in Southern Africa and the continental power in Africa and its national leader is used to represent African leaders in resolving Zimbabwe's problems. This explains why South Africa, under the leadership of President Thabo Mbeki has been singled out to play this role. Central to this assignment is the demand that South Africa must play a leading role in the efforts to remove Mugabe and ZANU-PF from power.
South Africa's refusal to play this role has earned it a well-organised international vilification. This strategy of vilification directed against Mbeki provides some social and organisational forces in making unnecessary demands upon South Africa and using abusive and insulting language against the country.
After the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission delayed to announce the results of the March 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary elections maintaining that the MDC won the presidential elections and that it had obtained the required percentage for it to be in charge of the political administration of the society, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai went into self-imposed, prolonged exiled. He was joined by Tendai Biti, the Secretary-General of the MDC.
Why, when the leaders of the political party striving to be in power left their country at the crucial moment of its struggle for self-imposed exile and prolonged their exile, did their actions not raise serious fundamental issues within the organisation and among its leading external supporters and funders? The reason why is that this served its strategy of internationalising Zimbabwe's national problems as the means to solve them. It was an integral part of this strategy.
Moving from one administrative capital to another administrative capital of Southern Africa, meeting political leaders of the region asking them for support for the MDC and its cause, Tsvangirai avoided the strategic issue of mobilising the masses of Zimbabwean people to support what the MDC said was its overwhelming victory in the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Upon returning to Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai found himself having enabled Mugabe and ZANU-PF to recapture the ground they lost and set the agenda impelling him and the MDC to react to it. Thanks to what he and the MDC did not anticipate was in the making, given his prolonged self-imposed exile and its theoretical and practical weaknesses, Dumisani Muleya maintained that Tsvangirai faced a difficult strategic test to win the presidential runoff election. Having "lost momentum," his campaign became "disjointed and incoherent." This development exposed the MDC's unique and frightening lack of appropriate strategy and tactics. According to Muleya:
Can anyone explain convincingly why there is no united front or broad-based opposition movement behind Tsvangirai's campaign, when it is obvious this would be his best insurance against violence and fraud? It boils down to a lack of a serious and co-ordinated strategy for the poll.
Tsvangirai, citing intensifying electoral campaign violence and killings and maintaining that the MDC "will no longer participate in the violent illegitimate sham of an election process" announced its withdrawal from the bitterly contested presidential run-off election on 22 June 2008. For him, Mugabe's statement that "the bullet has replaced the ballot" and that he would show the world that, "a ballpoint is not mightier than a gun" meant that he had declared war on the people of Zimbabwe and that it was impossible for the 27 June 2008 run-off election to reflect the will of the people. According to him, this war or "violent retributive campaign has left more than 200 000 people internally displaced and over 86 MDC supporters killed. More than 200 000 homes have been destroyed and over 10 000 people have been injured and maimed in this orgy of violence."
Opposition forces are still fractured, disjointed and bickering over petty issues. Tsvangirai is failing dismally to rise above the fray and inspire the opposition to join forces, to reinforce his leverage against a rival who should otherwise be a write-off because of the economic meltdown and his disastrous failures.
Mugabe might eventually storm back to power through a "smash and grab" approach unwittingly aided and abetted by the opposition's acts of commission or omission. If Tsvangirai and allies acted collectively, Mugabe would simply not win even through his warlike strategy.
The only redeeming advantage for Tsvangirai, though, is that Mugabe is battling against a tide of popular opposition and resistance. Tsvangirai on that account remains firmly on course, but for this credibility he really needs to win because of himself, not despite himself.
That's where strategy comes in. Without improving this weak strategy in the midst of escalating violence and repression, Tsvangirai risks losing an election which is his to win or lose.
What was the MDC's response to this state of affairs? As expected, Tsvangirai neither appealed to nor called upon the people of Zimbabwe to respond to it as a means to bring it to an end. Rather, he appealed to the United Nations Organisation, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community to "intervene and stop" what he regarded as the genocide.
While any brutal and violent measures visited upon the people, particularly those who are not using violent means in response, should be criticised and condemned clearly in no uncertain terms, to regard measures the Mugabe administration visited upon members and supporters of the MDC as genocide, as the MDC maintained, is to insult victims of genocide, if not to downgrade genocide as a crime against humanity.
The MDC's appeal to the United Nations Organisation, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, not to the people of Zimbabwe to respond to the problem as a means to confront and solve it, was expected given the fact that the MDC has on several occasions proved that it is neither willing nor capable to mobilise the masses into action to demonstrate its support and to make the country ungovernable so as to use their power to effect a change of government. It has never prepared the masses for this programme of action. This is despite the fact that Mugabe articulated in June 2008 that ZANU-PF will wage war to keep itself in power and that it will not let the MDC assume power through electoral victory; the position he maintained throughout confrontations between these two parties. He has been basically maintaining that to let the MDC assume power as a result of its electoral victory would be tantamount to giving up the country back to British Imperialism.
Given this reality, the MDC should have long prepared to complement the efforts of its ballot box alternative to defeat ZANU-PF, by recognising in theory and practice that its struggle requires more than blaming President Mbeki, it requires more than using harsh words against Mugabe and ZANU-PF, it requires more than moving from one capital to another capital seeking diplomatic support from friendly African leaders and the acquisition of moral, material and financial support from allies and friends including imperialist social and organisational forces.
The MDC's decision to withdraw from the presidential run-off election constituted a decisive setback to Tsvangirai's determination to be the president of the country. Independent Member of Parliament, Jonathan Moyo, regarded the decision as "suicidal" and "a wrong move at the wrong time." There was "a danger" that by pulling out of the run-off election, he "dug a political grave for himself." The point is that for Moyo, although the decision was going to compound Mugabe's legitimacy crisis, it was possible to wreck Tsvangirai's political career. According to him, it exposed Tsvangirai's weaknesses and inconsistencies." In his words:
"It reflects badly on Tsvangirai. As recently as last week, he said he didn't need to campaign because voters had already made up their minds and no amount of violence will make Mugabe win. On Saturday [21 June 2008] he said [he] was contesting the runoff which he claimed no one can cancel."
Moyo told the Bulawayo Press Club before the presidential run-off election how Tsvangirai stayed in the "comfort of South African hotels." In the state-controlled Chronicle, which featured three full-page ZANU-PF election campaign advertisements in its sixteen-page edition on 26 June 2008, Moyo said that the MDC withdrew from the run-off election because it "sensed defeat." He continued that ever since the 29 March 2008 harmonised elections, ZANU-PF had been campaigning vigorously, while Tsvangirai "spent precious time celebrating near-victory in the comfort of South African hotels."
The MDC's withdrawal from the presidential run-off election was a means primarily to ensure regional, continental and international intervention in Zimbabwe, not only to ensure regional, continental and international diplomatic pressure upon the Mugabe administration. It was an integral part of its long-standing strategy of internationalising Zimbabwe's national problems and shifting the responsibility to solve them from itself to international actors. In his suggestion that a peacekeeping force be sent to Zimbabwe, David Miliband, British Foreign Secretary, insisted that this process must be led by African countries.
The primary issue is that it should be sanctioned by African leaders through the African Union. The position that it should be led by African countries was the secondary issue. It was the secondary issue in the sense that it was the tactical means to ensure its support and justification. For it to be supported and justified, it should be seen to be led by African leaders if not to be seen as the initiative sanctioned by them. Related to this tactical means was that it should be seen as forming part of the African Standby Force.
African leaders have made it clear that they will never support this intervention in Zimbabwe. They articulated their position on it, among others, in their rejection of sanctions by developed countries against Zimbabwe as part of the solution to its problems. It is for this reason, among others, that Tsvangirai pointed out at a media conference in Harare on 25 June 2008, that he was not in favour of this intervention option.
On 25 June 2008, Tsvangirai called upon the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the United Nations to broker a transitional government in Zimbabwe. The MDC wanted the presidential run-off election postponed and a transitional government in which Mugabe serve as a caretaker president while negotiations between itself and ZANU-PF take place. It anticipated that this transitional arrangement could take as long as two years. Appealing to the African Union to decide on a mediation team at its summit on 28 June 2008 at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, it pointed out that it should include Mbeki provided it includes other African leaders or former heads of state.
While the MDC rejected the proposed intervention option as a means to contribute towards the resolution of Zimbabwe's political problems, some of its supporters continued supporting it. Nicole Fritz of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre proposed that the Southern African Development Community should take "enforcement action" against the Mugabe administration as it appeared that "peaceful means" have failed to achieve resolution to the problem. She maintained that strong protests from Botswana and other African countries to Mugabe indicated that Mbeki is no longer at the centre of peaceful efforts in Zimbabwe.
Contrary to this position which is an integral part of the thesis of the primacy of external factors over internal factors, either in the resolution or the maintenance of Zimbabwean national problems, Mbeki has not been at the centre to resolve Zimbabwe's problems through peaceful means. The people of Zimbabwe have been at the centre to resolve their national problems through peaceful means. Whether the Zimbabwean problems will be resolved through peaceful means or violent means depends primarily on Zimbabweans, not on those who are not Zimbabweans.
What is basically the national question in Zimbabwe has been internationalised or "denationalised." Central to the strategy of internationalising Zimbabwean national problems is the issue of exerting pressure upon African leaders, particularly Thabo Mbeki, to play a leading role in effecting regime change in Zimbabwe and to vilify them when they refuse to play this role. It was clear that this task was going to be assigned to Mbeki to execute. Those who assigned him this task ignored and still ignore his correct position that Zimbabwe's national problems are issues to be resolved by Zimbabweans.
Why has the MDC agreed with its external supporters in internationalising Zimbabwe's national question? Is it not aware that leaders of its external supporters play the role of being a self-appointed world gendarme with a self-appointed world mission and they do not effectively in practice respect the right of African countries to national self-determination and the free, independent exercise of their sovereignty and domestic and foreign policies? Is it not aware that they are against the very idea that political parties must ensure that the masses of the people are the main authority in the struggle to achieve, maintain and expand their interests? Maintaining that the strategy of the MDC of internationalising the Zimbabwean national problems has helped to "broken" the "wall of indifference" to these problems, Achille Mbembe concludes that:
"But denationalising the conflict, endlessly postponing a popular uprising, seeking refuge from one Western embassy to another and hoping to march to State House under the protection of foreign tanks come at a price."
This strategy used by the MDC and its national and international allies and supporters is the strategy of vilification. Central to this strategy is the popular, incorrect international position or widely shared "fantasy that South Africa holds the key" to Zimbabwean national problems. This position "conveniently exonerates the real actors, internal and external, of this drama." It has led Mbeki to being "painted ... unfairly" as "the second head of the Harare Janus-faced Hydra." Why is South Africa, not the Zimbabwean people, regarded as central to the resolution of Zimbabwean national problems? Why is South Africa, under the leadership of Mbeki, not some Zimbabwean social and organisational forces, regarded as central to the maintenance of Zimbabwean national problems? Will it not be a less incorrect or minor fantasy to maintain that the Southern African Development Community and the African Union hold the key to Zimbabwean national problems?
As the strategy of vilifying Mbeki for his refusal to use South Africa in playing its assigned role to effect the regime change in Zimbabwe, the strategy of internationalising Zimbabwean problems has logically led to some individuals demanding that Mbeki should be tried for what happened and what is happening in Zimbabwe.
Correctly criticising this demand as "homoerotic infatuation with Thabo Mbeki" which has no "legal or even political merit" or "a huge, hysterical ruse," Bongani Madondo maintains that "Morgan Tsvangirai is a world-class joke" and that "Mugabe has been correct all along" that he is "a dancing puppet of the West, without any real political skill or the maturity to lead" Zimbabwe.
Madondo's view of Tsvangirai will no doubt appear to some readers as a cynical exaggeration. Can Tsvangirai and the MDC provide concrete facts disputing this view? What can be disputed is that he is a puppet. The point is that he is not an extension of the West. The fact that he is not a puppet can be countered by saying he has been a loyal servant or ally of the leaders of the West.
Central to Madondo's view of Tsvangirai is the strategic issue of his political leadership. Africa Confidential, in raising the fundamental question as to whether the MDC can fight and rule, maintains the position on Tsvangirai which is essentially not different from that of Madondo on this crucial issue. It maintains that while "few" people would praise Tsvangirai's "political strategy or oratorical prowess," many people question his "ability to recognise and seize the moment to take power." This strategic weakness is his "reluctance to recognise mistakes and change failed tactics or strategy." It may be due to his "autocratic style" within the party and his "reluctance to take political advice from people such as his former ally, Welshman Ncube, who defected to Arthur Mutambara's faction of the MDC."
Pointing out that the MDC is "bereft of ideas" and that "a principal obstacle to political change is the disarray on policy and personnel in the opposition ranks, "it concludes that "certainly" it has been "no match for the canny political strategists in ZANU-PF" and that although its "statements concentrate international minds on Zimbabwe's crisis," its "domestic response is widely seen as too timid." These strategic weaknesses characterising the organisation help to explain why:
Neither the MDC nor the trade unions have been able to organise successful stay-aways, let alone strikes or mass political demonstrations. Some critics say this is because the opposition hasn't tried, and certainly hasn't organised effective support networks to sustain a mass action campaign.
Profound theoretical and practical weaknesses and mistakes characterising the MDC are not surprising. Any political party committed in practice to the strategy of internationalising national problems of its home country and shifting the responsibility to solve them from itself to external actors and working closely with the forces of Imperialism in achieving objectives of this strategy is bound to be characterised by these weaknesses and mistakes.
The strategy of internationalising or "denationalising" Zimbabwean national problems is maintained and defended in the Human Rights Watch report, Neighbours in Need: Zimbabweans Seeking Refugee in South Africa, written by Gerry Simpson. Simpson maintains in the report that South Africa's Zimbabwe policy has resulted in a failure to hold Mugabe accountable. He continues pointing out that that the "fact of the violent crackdown that followed the parliamentary and presidential elections in March 2008 demonstrates the failure" of the South African foreign policy towards Zimbabwe to "send a clear message to President Mugabe that there would be consequences for failing to reach agreement" with the MDC "on how best to ensure free and fair" presidential run-off "elections."
It is interesting to note that Morgan Tsvangirai, the president of the MDC, and Tendai Biti, its Secretary-General, went into a prolonged, self-imposed exile following these presidential and parliamentary elections. Why it is not demanded that they should have sent "a clear message to President Mugabe that there would be consequences for failing to reach agreement" with the organisation under their leadership "on how best to ensure free and fair" presidential run-off elections? Why should Mbeki serve as their representative on this issue? In other words, why should he do what it is their national task to execute as Zimbabwean leaders? Should we not expect them to provide external actors, particularly progressive social and organisational forces with platform to act in expressing solidarity and unity with the people of Zimbabwe?
Simpson maintains that South Africa has been more powerful than the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to such an extent that it has prevented them from constructively and decisively intervening in the Zimbabwean crisis. Pointing out that South Africa's response to the intensification of violence as the presidential run-off elections on 27 June 2008 approached continued being "inadequate" and in contrast to other Southern African regional leaders, Mbeki "refused to acknowledge the serious nature of the situation ... or call for an end to violence," Simpson concludes that given South Africa's policy towards Zimbabwe:
These different positions have prevented SADC and the AU from taking constructive and decisive action to intervene in the crisis, which has, in turn, emboldened the government of Zimbabwe to turn state institutions even more aggressively against Zimbabweans seeking democratic change and an end to the destruction of their country's economy.
Simpson maintains in the report that the "presence" of Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa "underlines a failure of South African foreign policy" towards Zimbabwe. This is its "failure to use" its "leverage effectively to address the brutal human rights violations and failed economic policies in Zimbabwe causing their flight." According to Simpson, this failure applies to South Africa's domestic policy. He states that:
Their undocumented status and vulnerability in South Africa, and the increasing public resentment against them, represents a failure of domestic policy - the failure to develop and implement a legal, comprehensive, and workable policy to address the reality of the existence of Zimbabweans in South Africa.
Simpson, a refugee researcher or a researcher conducting research on issues relating to refugees at the Human Rights Watch, is displaying his ignorance about the case of Zimbabweans he regards as refugee and asylum seekers in South Africa. If in fact they are refugee and asylum seekers, why they did not and still do not report themselves to the South African authorities upon arrival in the country as South Africans and people of other (Southern) African countries including Zimbabweans who sought refugee and asylum did in (Southern) African countries in the past. Given the fact that they do not report themselves to the South African authorities upon arrival in the country, why should their "undocumented status and vulnerability in South Africa" represent "a failure of domestic policy" of South Africa? Why is South Africa accused and criticised for breaking "international law by deporting" individuals who do not report to its relevant or competent authorised representatives upon their arrival in its territory? Why is South Africa accused and criticised for ignoring "the harsh reality" of these individuals "on its territory?" Why is it accused and criticised for not granting "them temporary" refugee and asylum "status and the right to work" as Simpson does? In his words:
South Africa faces a stark choice: it can break international law by deporting asylum seekers and ignore the harsh reality faced by hundreds of thousands of other Zimbabweans on its territory; or it can grant them temporary status and the right to work.
Simpson is not only displaying his ignorance about the case of Zimbabweans he regards as refugee and asylum seekers in South Africa. He is also using their case to camouflage and justify his hidden agenda. This agenda is that South Africa should play a leading role in effecting regime change in Zimbabwe. This is the central issue in the report he wrote for the Human Rights Watch.
Eleanor Momberg supports Simpson on this tactical means. She uses the case of these Zimbabweans in accusing and criticising South Africa for breaching its "fundamental obligations under international law" by "allowing many Zimbabweans to be mistreated by police, abused and exploited by employers," by deporting them, by not giving them "the right to work ... temporarily," by not unburdening "the asylum system of unnecessary claims," by not providing "data on undocumented Zimbabweans" and by not recognising them as "asylum seekers."
Is it South Africa's role to end the Mugabe administration and ZANU-PF as the ruling party and bring Tsvangirai and the MDC to power? Is this the task of the people of South Africa? Is it South Africa's task to impose Tsvangirai and the MDC on the people of Zimbabwe?
The United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain have been openly and materially supporting Tsvangirai and the MDC. They have not only supported Mugabe's position that the MDC is their organisational means used to achieve their strategic and tactical objectives in Zimbabwe and in the process helped to generate and sustains support for him and Zanu-PF, but also made it difficult for the MDC to generate support among a considerable number of progressive forces of other African countries. They have served as their allies in their position that theirs is the struggle against recolonisation of the country.
President George W. Bush's statement that President Mbeki was his "point man" on Zimbabwe was the issue of viewing him as the agent of the United States policy towards Zimbabwe. The practical refusal of Mbeki to play this role particularly to effect regime change in Zimbabwe earned him a well-organised campaign of vilification against him throughout the world.
It is in this context that we should understand vicious criticism levelled against South Africa under the leadership of Mbeki for its refusal to agree with what Imperialism and its intellectuals are demanding, that it must embark upon a programme of regime change in Zimbabwe.
One of its intellectuals is Michael John Gerson who played a crucial role in the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq. Gerson, an Evangelical Christian, is columnist for The Washington Post and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as President Bush's chief speechwriter from 2001 to June 2006, a senior policy advisor from 2000 to June 2006 and a member of the White House Iraq Group. He maintains in his 28 May 2008 column article, The Despots' Democracy in The Washington Post that South Africa "increasingly requires a new foreign policy category: the rogue democracy." In other words, South Africa under Mbeki has become a "rogue democracy." Briefly, it is a "rogue democracy."
The reason why is that, according to him, along with China and Russia, it "makes the United Nations impotent," that along with Saudi Arabia and Sudan, it "undermines the global human rights movement," that it "remains an example of freedom - while devaluing and undermining the freedom of others" and that it is "the product of a conscience it does not display."
The primary reason is that rather than "coordinating strategy to end Zimbabwe's nightmare" or effect regime change in the country, "Mbeki criticised" the United States for "taking sides against President Mugabe's government and disrespecting the views of the Zimbabwean people" to decide who should be their national president and which political party should constitute their government.
Johan Pienaar responded to Gerson's criticism of South Africa in his Washington Post column of 28 May 2008. In his open letter to Gerson, he pointed out, among others, that the United States is the last country which should meddle in the Zimbabwean internal affairs, that its meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq led to "the death of over four thousand" of its people and "the death of over one hundred thousand Iraqis." South Africa "needs to be applauded" for its "efforts to restrain the military ambition of an administration that proved" that it is "prepared to risk immense loss of life, rather than admit" that it was "wrong," that the United States "stands as a glowing example of the only Western Democracy to ignore international will" and the United Nations "resolutions to start an international conflict which has led to the deaths of more than one hundred thousand people," that it is "ridiculous" to "accuse South Africa of rendering the United Nations impotent" while it is "clear" that it is the United States which "leads the roost in hampering" the United Nations."
Pointing out that while South Africa has "a huge crime problem," he concludes that what it does not have is "a government" which "kills people for committing crimes, death penalty having been declared unconstitutional," it does not "torture" its "enemies" as the United States does and it "certainly" does not "detain people without the right to legal representation" as the United States does in Guantanamo, Cuba and that it "never created a public spectacle of killing one" of its "enemies" as the United States did with Saddam Hussein.
He continues that South Africa does not "kidnap citizens and hold them in foreign countries to be tortured" and that when in "one case" where its government "extradited a foreign national as part of the war on terror, the courts forced" it to "explain" its "actions" and that it "could not hide behind the evil of secrecy like the one created by the White House to cover up" its "wrongdoing." South Africa is "a country deeply ashamed by actions of a minority" of its people who attacked foreign nationals in May 2008. Its response was "admirable." Its government and civil society "stepped in and helped foreign nationals where they could."
Pienaar challenges Gerson to compare this response with the response of the United States government and civil society to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. In executing this task, he should take into account that South Africa is a developing country while the United States is the developed country. While criticising South African foreign policy towards Zimbabwe, he should take into account the reality that the United States foreign policy is "viewed by the world with suspicion and disgust."
Central to the assigned role of South Africa in the internationalisation of Zimbabwean national problems is the demand that it must play the leadership role in effecting regime change in Zimbabwe. This is the task assigned to the country by Imperialist powers. In highly appreciating the fact that the forces of Imperialism assigned South Africa to play this role, the MDC has been careful not to demand that these forces play a leading role in carrying out their regime change project themselves. It has been making it clear in public that it highly appreciates their political, ideological and economic investment in itself and its cause.
This imperialist goodwill is articulated by Eddie Cross, MDC chief advocate of privatisation of everything socio-political and economic in Zimbabwe and a senior advisor to Tsvangirai when he maintains that there is "absolutely no point in negotiating a deal that is not acceptable to the people with money." This political, ideological and economic goodwill of leaders of imperialist countries to the MDC and its cause is appreciated also by Jason Moyo and Mandy Rossouw in their position that the MDC knows that any agreement with ZANU-PF must be acceptable to the United Kingdom of Great Britain, the United States of America and other advanced capitalist countries.
In other words, the MDC as the political party should not and cannot reach an agreement with ZANU-PF which is not acceptable to Imperialist powers. Briefly, it is not an independent political party. This position affirms what Mugabe has been saying about the MDC; that it is the front of advanced capitalist powers. It is for this reason that Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice and ZANU-PF chief negotiator, is justified when he demands that Tsvangirai "must talk to us directly and not through foreign interests."
Achille Mbembe in his article, Politics of Pigment Mars Regeneration, represents those who assign to South Africa tasks they do not assign to their countries for execution. He maintains that free from "the shackles of white supremacy, South Africa was well positioned to lead the world into undoing the damage racism has inflicted on the idea of democracy." It is not clear why he wants South Africa, not the people of the world opposed to racism and who are for democracy to "lead the world into undoing the damage racism has inflicted on the idea of democracy." One is impelled to include that he is one of those who want to use South Africa and its nationals as their tools to execute this task.
Mbembe uses insulting and abusive language against South Africa and its African people. He maintains that feeling being "betrayed by the present, the law and democracy itself, they are willing to experiment with populism and various forms of lumpen-radicalism as evidenced by the increasingly stringent appeals to kill for and die for their leader."
He advises Africans of South Africa and their country (he regards as "this flawed country") that for their country to "contribute to the project of defeating racism in today's world will require a radical shift from politics of melancholia and nostalgia, whose main goal is to defer the prospect of racial justice, to a politics of responsibility." We should not raise the question as to what is his country doing in its "contribution to the project of defeating racism in today's world." Why? The reason why is that he is not representing his country and its people in maintaining these positions on South Africa and its people. There is a considerable number of Africans who assign tasks to be executed by South Africa and its African people - tasks which they themselves do not execute - tasks which they do not demand that their countries and their people should or must execute. There is a considerable number of African intellectuals - some regarding themselves as Pan-Africanists - who are only on the continental level, not also on the national levels. These Africans are also not on the continental level.
Africa and the masses of its people do not need these Africans in the struggle for the continental transformation and the transformation of the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world. Those who are needed are those who theoretically and practically belong to the dynamic theatre of the struggle for socio-political and economic development and progress of their African countries. Our commitment to this task is our practical meeting point as Africans in the struggle for total emancipation of our African continent from its internal and external enemies.
The theoretical exercise of assigning South Africa the task to play the role in leading "the world into undoing the damage racism has inflicted on the idea of democracy" and those who are not "flawed" in appointing themselves as intellectual and moral leaders of "black South African academics, critics, avant-garde artists and cultural intermediaries" in their struggle to "radically" transform their country's "institutions and the culture of public life," to achieve their "intellectual leadership and moral sovereignty" and to be aware that "how" they as "black South Africans think about themselves, imagine their own history and memorialise their losses will" not only "determine the fate of South Africa's fragile experiment in democracy," but "will also determine whether or not white people have a future in this continent" is not part of this struggle.
Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng is a social science researcher with the Governance and Democracy research programme at the Africa Institute of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa.
- Dumisani Muleya, "MDC chief faces stern strategy test to win," Business Day (Johannesburg), 9 June 2008, p. 9.
- Morgan Tsvangirai, quoted in Dumisani Muleya, "Tsvangirai withdraws MDC from 'sham' poll," Business Day (Johannesburg), 23 June 2008, p. 2.
- Jonathan Moyo, quoted in Dumisani Muleya, "Tsvangirai withdraws MDC from 'sham' poll," Business Day (Johannesburg), 23 June 2008, p. 2.
- Jonathan Moyo, quoted in Simpiwe Piliso, "State TV shows 'lavish lifestyle' of MDC leaders," Sunday Times (Johannesburg), 29 June 2008, p. 5.
- Mandy Rossouw, "African leaders look to discredit Mugabe," Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg), 27 June to 3 July 2008, p. 4.
- Nicole Fritz, quoted in Wilson Johwa, "MDC move jolts region into action over crisis," The Weekender (Johannesburg), 28-29 June 2008, p. 2.
- Achille Mbembe, "Sovereignty without democracy is meaningless," Sunday Independent (Johannesburg), 13 July 2008, p. 6.
- Bongani Madondo, "Mbeki's just a whipping boy," The Times (Johannesburg), 11 July 2008, p. 16.
- Africa Confidential, "Can the opposition fight and can it rule," Africa Confidential, Vol. 49, No. 9, 25 April 2008, p. 6.
- Ibid., p. 7.
- Ibid., p. 6.
- Human Rights Watch, "Neighbours in Need: Zimbabweans Seeking Refuge in South Africa," quoted in Eleanor Momberg, "Stop deporting asylum seekers, says rights body," Sunday Independent (Johannesburg), 29 June 2008, p. 16.
- Eleanor Momberg, "Stop deporting asylum seekers, says rights body," Sunday Independent (Johannesburg), 29 June 2008, p. 16.
- Michael Gerson, "The Despots' Democracy," The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.), 28 May 2008, p. A13.
- Johan Pienaar, "Open letter to Michael Gerson - Washington Post commentator," 29 May 2008, LitNet/Washington Post, http://www.litnet.co.za, page 1 of 4.
- Ibid., page 2 of 4.
- Ibid., page 3 of 4.
- Eddie Cross, quoted in Jason Moyo and Mandy Rossouw, "Bob still holds some cards," Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg), July, 25 to 31 2008, p. 6.
- Jason Moyo and Mandy Rossouw, "Bob still holds some cards," Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg), 25 to 31 July 2008, p. 6.
- Patrick Chinamasa, quoted in Mandy Rossouw and Jason Moyo, "African leaders divided over Mugabe," Mail & Guardian, 4 to 10 July 2008, p. 8.
- Achille Mbembe, "Politics of pigment mars regeneration," Sunday Independent (Johannesburg), 3 August 2008, p. 6.
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