William M Gumede: Even his own party realises the solution must come from out of Africa

Related Topics

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki desperately did not want Zimbabwe to be debated by the United Nations, he prefers "African solutions for Africa's problems".

That is obviously an admirable and also the right sentiment. The problem is that, in the case of Zimbabwe, it has not worked. It has failed disastrously. That is what even his own party is now telling him.

Mr Mbeki wanted more time but African National Congress members – in no uncertain terms – have told him time has run out after five years of quiet diplomacy in Zimbabwe. The big irony is Mr Mbeki has never warmed to Mr Mugabe, and Mr Mugabe loathes Mr Mbeki. In the first place, the ANC never allied to Zanu-PF during its liberation struggle. Even at Zimbabwe's first independence elections, the ANC supported Zapu, Zanu-PF's rival.

And now, at the very end, while knowing that Mr Mugabe is the problem, Mr Mbeki still cannot countenance the opposition Movement for Democratic Change getting to power.

He would rather contemplate Simba Makoni, the former Zanu-PF guerrilla and finance minister, who was the third candidate in the presidential election, rather than Morgan Tsvangirai, the former trade union leader, now head of the MDC. Why? Mr Mbeki, like other African liberation leaders of his age, believe that only those who fought in the liberation struggle can be trusted to lead. Mr Tsvangirai was a trade unionist during the Zimbabwean liberation struggle.

They also believe that those who break away from a liberation movement, as Mr Tsvangirai did in 1999, are akin to traitors. Mr Mbeki appears to think that by giving Mr Mugabe a soft landing he will protect the good ideals of the anti-colonial liberation struggle. By still wanting to accommodate Mr Mugabe, after all the misery the tyrant has unleashed against his own people, in the name of struggle solidarity, Mr Mbeki is in fact destroying the grand idea of the liberation struggle.

The wider ANC understands all of that.

All Mr Mbeki needs to say publicly is that he opposes everything that Mr Mugabe stands for. That would be the nudge needed to finally push Mr Mugabe out. Just the fact that Mr Mbeki said the Zimbabwean crisis was "manageable" firmed up Mr Mugabe's position when he was most vulnerable.

By not dealing decisively with Mr Mugabe, Mr Mbeki's much vaunted African solutions for Africa's problems have been dealt a devastating blow. It is now to those outside Africa, to solve this deep African problem.

WM Gumede is author of 'Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace

Gabriel Sassoon
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little