OPINION: South Africa Should Stop Being A Nanny To Zimbabweans, They Brought Their Problems On Themselves

An opinionist writing for the Times Live South Africa said beleaguered Zimbabwe doesn’t deserve its neighbour South Africa’s sympathy because Zimbabwe’s problems are self-inflicted.

In the lengthy opinion piece, Barney Mthombothi opined:

Zimbabwe seems to have gone off the boil lately. Not much has changed, though. The repression, the destitution and general sense of despair are still the lot of ordinary Zimbabweans; but the outrage seems to have died with Robert Mugabe. It is the new normal.

Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power in a strangely circuitous route. Most of those who marched in celebration on that sunny November afternoon were not born when Mugabe took over from white minority rule and famously urged his countrymen to turn swords into ploughshares.

he insults and revelry must have been too painful for Mugabe. But they didn’t care. They didn’t even care how he went. They were just glad to see the back of him. The marchers insisted it was not a military coup d’etat. They were also determined that foreigners should keep their tentacles out of Zimbabwe.

They now had the maturity to take care of their own affairs. And they reserved particular venom for Thabo Mbeki, the former South African President, whose machinations they believed had kept them under Mugabe’s repressive thumb for much longer than was necessary.

In those heady days, nobody was prepared to look in the mirror.

They had been able to remodel themselves, or even con their constituencies to believe they represented a new order

A few months later Mnangagwa was standing in the snow alongside Cyril Ramaphosa at the World Economic Forum in Davos. With scarves emblazoned with the colours of their respective countries hanging from their necks, the two looked like brothers. They smiled from ear to ear.

The future looked bright. In fact, their route to power had followed a similar path. They had both replaced very unpopular leaders who had been removed by unconventional means. And they had both been eager participants in the delinquency of their predecessors.

But, remarkably, they had been able to remodel themselves, or even con their constituencies to believe they represented a new order.

Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa told the assembled captains of industry, was open for business. It was a breath of fresh air, a departure from the usual diet from Mugabe who had famously told Tony Blair to keep his Great Britain “and I’ll keep my Zimbabwe”. His supporters had cheered avidly amid the starvation.

Mnangagwa went back home and promptly stole the elections. Old habits die hard. The repression has continued apace, even intensified.

He’s called the Crocodile for a reason. How anyone can expect compassion from a maneater defies logic. It was ridiculous in the first place that they could even celebrate his victory like he was some sort of messiah. Lemmings. Like turkeys voting for Christmas.

Didn’t Mnangagwa lead the mass slaughter in Matabeleland? He was Mugabe’s sidekick after all, involved in all the repression, the torture and killings. They could not now complain that they didn’t know who he was. But they believed the lie that he’d changed, that he’d seen the light. Sounds familiar. People will always see what they want to see.

The trouble with Zimbabwe is not that people were oppressed by their own leadership. That’s not unique to Zimbabwe. It happens everywhere, especially in Africa, sadly. Trouble is outsiders were always flying in with readymade solutions for them.

The West, the UN, AU, they all pitched in. SADC almost had a permanent desk dedicated to the Zimbabwe problem. And dogooders also have opinions, an agenda, which may or may not necessarily tally with those of the people they seek to help.

Such organisations always bat for the guy in power. Mugabe was always in pole position. His fellow leaders were always tinkering at the edges, never threatening his status.

Zimbabweans were correct to rail against Mbeki and the solutions he ultimately proffered for their country. But Mbeki didn’t impose himself on them. He was chosen by his fellow Africans as the leader closest to the issue.

In any case, SA had no choice. With Zimbabweans streaming into the country as a result of instability in their own country, it had to get involved. For SA, Zimbabwe has ceased to be a foreign policy issue. The issues are real and have domestic political consequences.

Mugabe may have gone, but Mnangagwa, unfortunately, has picked up the baton and is persisting with his brutal legacy. And SA, as always, is cheering him on. It is, for instance, now campaigning for the lifting of international sanctions against Zimbabwe despite the country not even making an attempt to mend its ways.

The ANC government says sanctions are hurting the people they seek to help. The last time some people used such an argument with respect to SA, the ANC accused them of being apartheid apologists. How times have changed!

For too long SA has treated Zimbabwe like a toddler that keeps straying into the fire. It should cease being the nanny, and let it burn its fingers if it should happen.

Maybe Zimbabweans don’t deserve our sympathy.

They brought the problem on themselves after all by voting these rogues into power. And only they can extricate themselves from their mess

Source: Times Live 


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2 comments on “OPINION: South Africa Should Stop Being A Nanny To Zimbabweans, They Brought Their Problems On Themselves

  1. To think that Zimbabweans brought these problems on themselves is ridiculous to say the least. Zimbabweans are and have been under the Yorkshire of two dictators who have been in the system together for over 40 years. SADC and AU have not helped. Thabo Mbeki has always taken sides with the dictators. South Africa is culpable as they protect these so called revolutionary comrades. Is therefore fair to say South Africa are complicity a d therefore are part of both the problem and solution, yes SA should suffer with us.

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