Felex Share Senior Reporter—
Political analysts yesterday lauded former South African President Thabo Mbeki for respecting the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) principle of sovereignty by categorically stating that his compatriots had no right to meddle in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. This comes as Malawian President Mr Peter Mutharika also distanced himself from media reports attributed to him saying distasteful comments about President Mugabe.
Speaking during a discussion with young people involved in the Thabo Mbeki Foundation over the weekend, Mr Mbeki said only Zimbabweans should have a say on whether or not their leader should leave office.
“I would fight with any South African who stands up to say: ‘I, as a South African, say Robert Mugabe must go’,” he said. “I say it is none of your business. It is the business of the people of Zimbabwe…If the people of Zimbabwe think that President Mugabe has overstayed his welcome, let them say…President, please go away.”
Mr Mbeki added: “The colonial system was exactly about taking away the possibility for us to determine our own (destiny). Now, I sit here as a South African and me, I’m going to say to the Zimbabweans: ‘You shut up. I’m going to decide for you who your leader is’’ … It is wrong.”
Mr Mbeki brokered the 2009 Global Political Agreement (GPA) in Zimbabwe, which ushered in the Government of National Unity (GNU) that ran the country between 2009 and 2013.
His remarks come in the wake of attacks on President Mugabe by South African opposition parties, principally Mr Mmusi Maimane (Democratic Alliance) and Julius Malema (Economic Freedom Fighters).
These political outfits are fronting white minority interests in South Africa.
Political analyst Mr Goodwine Mureriwa said Mr Mbeki, who ruled South Africa between 1999 and 2008, was a “principled pan-Africanist.”
“We give him thumps up for sustaining Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and respecting the African Union and United Nations principle that there should be non-interference in the internal affairs of any given country,” he said.
“Because he is principled, he strongly stood against the West’s plans to invade Zimbabwe and remove President Mugabe from power through military action. He also told President Ian Khama of Botswana that it was not proper for his country to host the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), a military airbase.
“Having been a mediator here, he understands the politics in Zimbabwe and that the West wanted regime change for specific reasons. He has also gone public saying the land question in Zimbabwe is different from that of South Africa, adding that Zimbabweans have a historical relationship with their land.”
Mr Mbeki last year revealed that Britain and the US wanted military intervention in Zimbabwe, adding that South Africa’s Minister of Intelligence at the time, Lindiwe Sisulu, “had to make a number of trips to London and Washington to engage the UK and US governments on their plans for Zimbabwe, with strict instructions from our government to resist all plans to impose anything on the people of Zimbabwe, including by military means.”
Another political analyst Mr Tafadzwa Mugwadi said Mr Mbeki was one of Africa’s rare breed of politicians, schooled and molded in the tradition of African revolution.
“It is clear that the man is in the same thinking cap with President Mugabe who has pioneered the doctrine of unconditional respect for States’ sovereignty and peaceful co-existence in the face of unbridled interference by former colonialists in the domestic affairs of our countries,” he said.
He said Zimbabweans should always cherish the solidarity from Mr Mbeki.
Lawyer and political analyst Mr Tendai Toto said the comments by some misguided South Africans were provocative and a general disregard of the sovereignty of Zimbabwe and its governmental leadership.
“I find nothing wrong though in Zimbabweans taking the governmental leadership of Zimbabwe to account,” he said. “I, however, find difficulties tolerating South Africans that get overly excited, barking louder than the citizens of Zimbabwe calling the Zimbabwe government to account on terms and conditions they seem to dictate.
“Loud and clear, those South Africans must be reminded that Zimbabwe enjoys absolute, supreme and ultimate dominion and authority of its political affairs within its territory in full self-government and in complete freedom from any outside influence.”
Meanwhile, the Malawian Government has distanced itself from a story carried by an online publication, Nyasa Times, claiming that President Mutharika made distasteful comments about President Mugabe.
The online publication claimed President Mutharika had said that he would not be like President Mugabe by remaining in office beyond the two terms limit stipulated in the Malawian constitution.
“President Mutharika has never addressed a rally in Machinga and has never held a meeting in public or in private where he made that statement where the unfortunate suggestions by the article have been drawn,” said Government spokesperson and Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Harry Dausi in a statement yesterday.
“In any case, President Mutharika is an international diplomat and international law expert who understands the obligation of non-interference that nations are expected to comply with. Zimbabwe is a sovereignty State and as such, they are entitled to determine their own internal matters as they see fit.
“Suffice it to say Malawi has no business to dictate to the people of Zimbabwe how they should conduct their affairs. The people of Malawi and those of Zimbabwe are assured that the Government of Malawi remains resolute to its policy of not interfering in internal matters of other countries.
“Government is aware that the opposition parties in Malawi are running a desperate campaign to tell lies against the President and his administration in order to create chaos in the country and abhorrence in the international community because they know that they have no credible strategy for winning the 2019 elections.”