SA govt supports Mugabe – Leon

LONDON - The South African government has a de facto policy of support for the Mugabe regime said the main opposition Democratic Alliance party leader Tony Leon in London last week.
He said President Thabo Mbeki's policy of 'silent diplomacy' was in reality a policy of 'sile

nt approval.’
“Mbeki’s own deadline for the policy to have delivered results by 2004 – the staging of free and fair multi-party elections in Zimbabwe – came and went. Mbeki’s self-proclaimed policy failed, yet his credibility survived unscathed. Why then the absence of pressure from below to make good his assurances?” said Leon.
He attributed this to a variety of factors: South Africans are weary of Zimbabwe. They perceive the crisis to be hopeless and intractable, perceptions reinforced by the MDC’s recent split. For these reasons the country has slipped off the news agenda.
Controversially, Leon noted that many South Africans question why Zimbabweans do not do more to emancipate themselves. He conceded that Mugabe was ruthless – there would be ‘cost and consequences’ for those standing up to him – but no less perhaps than borne by those resisting apartheid in the 70s and 80s.
“None of this belittles the heroic efforts to diminish the heroic efforts made by organisations like Women of Zimbabwe Arise and the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions. It is easy for those in the comfort zone to exhort those on the front line to do more,” said Leon.
In the days of the anti-apartheid struggle, those in the diaspora made a critical contribution. The disinvestment campaign which removed the apartheid regime’s financial prop was on account of massive lobbying efforts by the diaspora.
Leon said, considering the size of the Zimbabwean diaspora in South Africa, it was astonishing that Zimbabwe was off the news agenda in the one country where it ought to matter most.
“If salvation is to come from the South Africans, then it will come through the efforts of the diaspora. If the diaspora does not stir itself, then this prospect is dim indeed,” he added.
Leon acknowledged the post-apartheid government success in maintaining stable macro-economic policy, and said indications of a deepening trend towards authoritarianism and corruption in the governing ANC threatened the consolidation of post-apartheid democracy. – Franco Henwood writes in his personal capacity

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