Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mbeki's Zimbabwean dilemma

After years of balking and stalling behind the facade of "quiet diplomacy" Mbeki must now make a tough decision regarding Zimbabwe at home in South Africa, putting the spotlight full beam on his credibility. This as Zimbabwe's unashamed government once again pulled out the begging bowl and are taking it to the doors of those nations that have propped them up one more time.

Zimbabwe's president, Mugabe will be in China shortly looking for another aid package. His female deputy, Joyce Mujuru, has been dispensed to Iran on a similar mission. Meanwhile several ministers and the governor of the our central bank are in South Africa with a big request; US$1 billion in credit. From Zimonline,
"Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono last Friday met his South African Reserve Bank counterpart, Tito Mboweni, in Pretoria to hammer out details of a possible US$1 billion rescue package for Zimbabwe.

Mugabe and his government urgently need hard cash to import food, fuel and electricity and avert a total collapse of Zimbabwe that has in the past six years, miraculously survived crisis after crisis.

A meeting between South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and her Zimbabwean counterpart, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, that had been scheduled for yesterday as a follow up on Gono and Mboweni’s talks was postponed because Dlamini-Zuma is away.

According to sources, Gono assured Mboweni that Harare would among other things reconsider its clean-up exercise as well as repressive media laws, all issues that have drawn criticism from major Western governments and rights groups."
This boils down to a tough cost benefit equation for South Africa. They obviously can't afford to fund the full amount Zimbabwe is requesting, and we know they want to help their comrades north of the Limpopo. However, giving Zimbabwe money will signify to the rest of the developed world that not only does Mbeki support Mugabe, but that he believes in the latter's self destructive actions. This would clarify where Mbeki's real alliances are especially given he sent a lot of mixed messages on Zimbabwe and that already doing some of the same things Mugabe has done. Essentially Mbeki's global credibility will take a huge blow if lends any help to Zimbabwe.

Internally, the situation is no better. Within the ANC, the old conservative, those of the same ilk as Nelson Mandela, only want freedom and justice in Zimbabwe. This view will be magnified this week as the world turns to South Africa to celebrate Mandela's birthday. Bill Clinton is down there right now and NPR's Market Place did a special report on the probability of the South African loan yesterday.

Then there's the neo-conservatives in ANC who are in control of the party. This is the group that subtly supports Zimbabwe, they probally want more done in South Africa to reverse the vices of apartheid (including but not limited to as in Zimbawe, land redistribution etc.). Outside of that are the people largely represented by COSATU, South Africa's congress of trade unions. This group, which forms the core of Mbeki's support base, has alligned itself to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union's which ironically is the base of the MDC's support base. So Mbeki, will by the action he takes on this latest request from Zimbabwe, inevitably send vital signals about the kind of leader he is.

Mr. Mbeki owing to your inaction over Zimbabwe through the years, the gods have elected to punish by your own choice. You see on this one, you're damned if do and damned if you don't.

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