Mandela attacks African 'tyrants'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

South Africa's revered former president, Nelson Mandela, yesterday attacked African "tyrants" who cling to power. Although he did not name Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, he said: "Everybody here knows who I am talking [about]."

Giving a speech in Johannesburg for Unicef, the children's charity, Mr Mandela departed from his text to talk about "leaders in Africa who have made enormous wealth, leaders who once commanded liberation armies". They had come to "despise the very people who put them in power" and "think it is their privilege to be there for eternity".

Some of these leaders wanted to keep power for life to avoid retribution for their crimes in office: "We have to be ruthless in denouncing such leaders."

Mr Mandela went on to support the quiet diplomacy pursued by his successor, Thabo Mbeki, although the economic damage from Zimbabwe's crisis is beginning to be felt as far away as Kenya.

In Zimbabwe, the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was released after being held at a police roadblock for seven hours. He was not charged. His party, the Movement for Democratic Change, said the detention was aimed at intimidating the opposition ahead of elections expected next month.