Monday, 28 July 2008

Zimbabwe, Zuma and Odinga

By Sam Akaki

I congratulate Sunday Vision for the interview with ANC leader Jacob Zuma titled, “No racism in South Africa.” The interview will send a clear message to the British and other Western countries that they are not going to use the crisis in Zimbabwe, which they created, to divide either the African National Congress (ANC) or the African Union so to control Africa again.

The West, especially the British, had been trying to push Zuma to swallow their bait by publicly criticising Robert Mugabe thus driving a dangerous wedge between him and President Thabo Mbeki who has been pursuing quiet but fruitful diplomacy to defuse the problems in Zimbabwe.

Thankfully, Zuma had the courage to reiterate what leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have repeatedly made clear on many occasions.

They have said the West exaggerates the crisis in Zimbabwe, that we have had problems on the continent but the West does not raise the alarm as it has done regarding Zimbabwe; we had millions dying in Angola, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and northern Uganda, but the West kept silent.

The more I read the interview, the more I admired Zuma. He reiterated the belief that the British and the American are hypocrites who practice “double standards” because Olusegun Obasanjo, Mwai Kibaki and other African leaders have also rigged elections but nobody said there must be regime change; that a Pakistan military man who staged a coup against his government and even wears a military uniform on TV is their friend, and that “you cannot prescribe for the Zimbabweans and tell them who must be their president.”

Zuma also made clear the point that the Zimbabwe land problem has its roots in the Lancaster House.

“There are specific agreements that were reached which were not honoured (by the British) thereafter,” he said.

Zuma was right to disassociate himself from the statement allegedly made in London by Nelson Mandela who reportedly said “the problem of South Africa is weak leadership”. This is the same Mandela who was given a long prison sentence from which he was never expected to come out alive. Today, his statue stands in Parliament Square, London, as a monument of British cynicism and insult to the intelligence of Africans.

Mandela’s statue stood there for three years before the US finally removed his name from the list of international terrorists two weeks ago.

The Western powers who accuse Mugabe of killings looked on when in 1969 people were killed by South African police in Sharpeville township during what came to be called the Sharpeville massacre. They did not say there must be regime change in South Africa. The big powers also kept a blind eye in 1976 when 23 people were killed during the Soweto uprising where secondary students were protesting forced tuition in Afrikaans.

Just as Zuma was telling the world through the Sunday Vision “You can’t tell Zimbabweans who must be their president” and that “In Kenya, thousands of people died, more than those who have died in Zimbabwe, but nobody said Kibaki must go,” Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga was in London telling the British exactly the opposite.

Seen in the UK as a hero and introduced by the BBC’s Andrew Marr as “one of the few enlightened African leaders to have publicly criticised Mugabe,” Raila told the popular BBC Sunday programme, “Mugabe is a shame for Africa” and that he must go.”

All Africans who value Africa’s hard-won freedom from colonialism and slavery should praise Zuma and question Raila’s stance on Zimbabwe.

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