SA's designs in Africa must be curtailed

HARARE - Over the years, it has become very clear that South Africa is the worst mediator on the continent.

From Thabo Mbeki to Jacob Zuma, South Africa has not had much success with its mediation efforts because their policies are formed around outdated camaraderieships with former liberation war political parties elsewhere.

Unlike countries such as Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique, which liberated themselves through sheer military engagements with the enemy, South Africa was liberated by sanctions and merciful negotiations, while the South Africans, including the ANC, were busy necklacing each other in the townships.

The ANC is, therefore, eager to be viewed as a bona fide liberation war political party, thus the pathetic solidarity with liberation era parties.

Zimbabwe and Africa must watch very closely what South Africa is doing on the continent and make sure this country of ‘‘incompetent bumblers’’ of the ANC does not continue with their greedy forays into fellow African states the way they are doing.

Having dismally failed at mediation and negotiation, South Africa has now turned to ‘‘clandestine’’ military escapades to assist South African business, which has been having a hard time since independence.

I was not surprised that South Africa was caught with its hand in the cookie jar in the Central African Republic, claiming that their soldiers have been deployed there to train military personnel.

We have seen all this before.

A “Final report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo” issued by the United Nations, (UN Doc: S/2002/1146, October 16 2002), named current Zimbabwe Defence minister Emerson Mnangagwa, the late general Vitalis Zvinavashe and many others as some of the people with cases to answer following alleged massive exploitation of the DR Congo.

Several countries have jumped into the raging DR Congo war and the report charged that Congolese and Zimbabwean government and military officials have transferred the ownership of at least $5bn in assets from the DR Congo mining sector to private companies “with no compensation or benefit for the State treasury”. (Mining sector assets’ is, perhaps, diplomatic terminology for diamonds, gold and other minerals.)

Zimbabwean officials claimed then that their contracts were legal payment for troops, which supported the Kinshasa government.

There was absolutely no reason for Zimbabwean military personnel to be in the DR Congo conflict — unless we factor in the use of the national army to acquire and protect ‘‘mining sector assets’’ belonging to high-ranking individuals in the army, in government and in the ruling party.  

ANC moguls are doing precisely the same and it just so happened that the overthrow of an unpopular leader in the CAR unwittingly exposed the use of the national army to protect assets belonging to well-connected individuals.

Briefing the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on defence, South African Defence Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, stated that “the only reason the 400 additional troops were sent to the CAR in January this year was that they knew things were getting sticky in the country, and they needed to protect the 26 troops who were already there, and their equipment”.

Meanwhile, another relic from the past, Frank Chikane, has written a book claiming that Mbeki’s mediation prevented Zimbabwe from descending into civil war.

Chikane, a former director-general of the SA presidency, was too modest to mention that Mbeki is the one person who destroyed possibilities of peace at that time with his biased mediation.
If Chikane thinks that what is happening in Zimbabwe today is a sign of successful mediation on Mbeki’s part, he needs to have his head examined.

South Africa always intervenes on the side of perpetrators and abusers.

When they mediate, they quietly support a sitting dictator. Having installed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as the chair of the African Union, South Africa is bullying African countries by massing troops in Uganda.

This, after sending its troops in CAR without the concurrence of the regional body, the Economic Community of Central African States.

South Africa can never be an impartial mediator; it cannot protect any African country.

What did it do to quell political problems in Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and DR Congo yet it can send troops “to protect democratically elected leaders” elsewhere?

South Africa must stay home and behave itself like all good neighbours should do. - Tanonoka Joseph Whande

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