Mbeki says NewsDay lied

PRETORIA - August 29, 2013 —The office of former president Thabo Mbeki has noted a report in Thursday’s edition of Zimbabwe’s newspaper, NewsDay, which attributes certain statements about Zimbabwe to the former president.

It alleges that when he addressed a seminar at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (Tmali) at the University of South Africa in Tshwane last week, Mbeki expressed disappointment at:

(a) The MDC-T’s withdrawal of its court challenge to the election results; and,

(b) The manner in which the land reform process in Zimbabwe was carried out.

The NewsDay article is nothing but a mischievous cut and paste job of quotations intended to communicate falsehoods to achieve particular political outcomes.

It is true that Mbeki expressed the view that Zimbabwe and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) as a whole would have been well served by verification of the MDC-T’s allegations of electoral irregularities through the courts so that the matter can be laid to rest once and for all.

With regard to Zimbabwe’s land reform process, Mbeki said that though Sadc agreed with the Zimbabwean government about the imperative for land reform, it did not agree with the manner in which the process was carried out.

He added that this agreement not withstanding, the land reform process in Zimbabwe has proved successful.

The fact that Sadc, of which South Africa is a member, expressed a contrary opinion to the government of Zimbabwe at the time must surely have come as a shocking surprise to NewsDay, but shocking as this revelation might be to NewsDay, it is no justification to twist and manipulate the truth.

In the interest of truthful reporting based on sound journalistic ethics, below we attach a transcript of the relevant part of former president Mbeki’s interaction at the seminar. An audio recording will be placed on the Thabo Mbeki Foundation website in the next 24 hours.


Many years ago, the leadership in the region engaged the Zimbabwean leadership, that is, President Mugabe and others in a very sustained process to discourage them from the manner in which they were handling the issue of land reform.

We were saying to them that “yes indeed we agree, the land reform is necessary but the way in which you are handling it is wrong.” We tried very hard.

We said, all these things about the occupation of the farms by war veterans, all of this is wrong. This is what we said.

But fortunately the Zimbabweans did not listen to us and went ahead.

The consequence of it is that I’ve looked at, at least four books that have been written about the land reform in Zimbabwe.

All of them say that in fact the process of land reform in Zimbabwe has given land to 300 000 - 400 000 new land owners.

The peasants of Zimbabwe at least own the land of Zimbabwe.

The programme succeeded. It has this very direct benefit on these huge number of Zimbabweans.

And so I found it very strange that this intellectual friend of mine that I mentioned earlier on, could say that the MDC would win the elections in the rural areas.

They couldn’t have, essentially because they were identified by that rural population as having opposed the land reform...rightly or wrongly.

I think that it is exactly the manner in which they came at that question of land reform that offended other forces in the world that said this is wrong, we don’t like it.

Unlike us who said well, they’re not listening, they’ve done what they want to do about their country, and we have to accept that.

These others said they have set a bad example, which we don’t want, everybody else in Africa and the rest of the world to follow.

So they must pay the price for setting a bad example — a bad example in the instance of the interests of these other people, and not bad in terms of the interests of the people of Zimbabwe.

So I think this is part of the reason that there is so much attention globally on a country on the continent, which is actually not particularly important.

But it is important because it is setting, in the eyes of some, a bad example, which must be defeated.

All of us know that the African Union (AU) and Sadc, among others, deployed large numbers of observers for these elections.

The AU even placed its observers in Zimbabwe at least a month ahead of the elections.

I know of no deployment of African observers of this size.

Between the AU and Sadc, just these two, they had at least 1 000 observers in Zimbabwe.

I know no instance when the continent has deployed that kind of number.

This was because of this concern about Zimbabwe in particular.

Both observer teams have essentially said the elections were peaceful and everybody agrees with that.

They have said that the elections were free, that they represented the opinions of the people of Zimbabwe.

Sadc has said that it will need a bit more time to look at the matter of this fairness of the elections.

The reason the Sadc observers said that they want to look at this in detail was because, for instance, they need to look at the media coverage of the contending parties to determine whether it was fair and balanced.

They may make a determination about that. They also want to look into whether the location of the voting stations were done in such a way that it would ensure equal access — relatively easy access between rural and urban areas.

They will make a determination about all of these.

They were not questioning the credibility of the elections but want to look at this matter about what is meant by fair in order to ensure that, as a continent, when we do indeed conduct elections in future, we’ve got some standards to follow in terms of what would constitute this element of fair, so they decided to leave a residual group in Zimbabwe to look at that question and the AU agreed to join them.

I am saying one of the strange things is that you have the entire continent, in terms of its credible and legitimate institutions, saying yes indeed there were problems and we are going to detail what those problems were, but these elections represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

Then you have an alternative voice in Washington, London and Brussels, which says no, you Africans are wrong. I mean, how does that happen?

Why this absolute contempt for the view of the Africans about themselves? Why?

Maybe because the Africans are stupid, the Africans can’t count or something.

The MDC decided to go to court in Zimbabwe to contest the elections, as you know, and then suddenly withdrew the petition.

Personally I was very pleased that they submitted the petition because it would give a possibility to actually look in detail at all the allegations that had been made about what went wrong with the elections.

I was quite upset when they said they are withdrawing the petition because it denied us the possibility to really look into these things (the allegations).

But later I understood why they withdrew.

This was because even in their petition they made various allegations and did not submit to the court any documents to substantiate any of the allegations.

*Issued by: the office of former president Thabo Mbeki

Comments (5)

Mbeki sided with Mugabe from the beginning. And not all the states in Africa agreed that the election was fair.

Tiger Shona - 31 August 2013

No wonder why Africa will never develop with such leadership. Mbeki is supposed to be one of the enlightened ones but chooses to skirt around the real issues. 300 000 farmers do not make up the whole of rural zimbabwe. Besides if zanu pf was so confident of their support why do they use chiefs to direct them how to go the polling stations to vote. If they are so popular why did they not agree to release the voters role in time. What is the electoral court hiding in refusing with the election materials.As zimbabwe we have to make a choice of which standards to follow. Are we content with being the best among pathetically poor africans or we want to aspire to the american standard of living where anyone who is employed(though he does not own any land) can afford a decent life and can easily buy a car or even a house. Sadly our leaders want us to aspire to a very low standard of living.

magame - 31 August 2013

ADVICE: Do something for yourself, for your beloved family. Don't waste your time talking politics while others are enjoying their lives with money without talking politics. See how this Zimbabwean poor woman became a millionaire just by buying and selling accident cars. Very interesting. Go to (USED.CO) not dot com, to see the methods and companies she was using to do that (USED.CO) not dot com, it is a very simple idea but a very powerful One, Wake up Africans

Vada - 1 September 2013

@Tiger Shona AU represents Africa you fool. And to those who think Mugabe is not a good leader you are lost. Completely lost.

Hlongwane Spinach - 2 September 2013

i think Mbeki has articulated in the best form why Africans are legging behind its because we want others to fight for us but not serving our interest .let us endure pain but shaping our own Africa not to look up to the west . Robert Mugabe has proved beyond any doubt that he is a hero of Africa.this Newsday reporter is a shame to Zimbabwe .

tsotso - 2 September 2013

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