By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
17 February, 2014
A proposal by ZANU PF to name a street in Zimbabwe after the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, has been dismissed by the MDC-T and some observers, who accuse Mbeki of supporting the Mugabe regime during his tenure as chief SADC negotiator.
A ZANU PF legislator last week urged parliamentarians to show “appreciation” of Mbeki by naming a street after the former South African leader, claiming that he brought stability to Zimbabwe by negotiating the creation of a coalition government in 2008.
The motion was tabled in Parliament on Thursday by ZANU PF MP for Hurungwe North, Reuben Marumahoko, during a debate on the Presidential speech. Marumahoko credited Mbeki with saving Zimbabwe from “a regime change agenda”, describing him as “the icon of Africa”, “son of the soil” and “a principled man”.
But the MDC-T MPs were reportedly dead set against it and do not consider Mbeki a hero who saved Zimbabwe from “a regime agenda”. Instead they view the former South Africa leader as a ZANU PF ally who saved the Mugabe regime after it lost to the MDC-T in 2008.
Political commentator Lameck Mahachi also dismissed the street naming idea, saying there are other pressing issues in Zimbabwe that Marumahoko should be focusing on. Mahachi explained that ZANU PF had lost the 2008 elections and resorted to violence against MDC-T supporters and officials when regional leaders appointed Mbeki to negotiate a solution.
“ZANU PF was dead and buried and he came and saved them. He negotiated for the survival of ZANU PF and not the survival of Zimbabwe. Changing from a ZANU PF government to an MDC-T government is a process of democracy, not regime change,” Mahachi told SW Radio Africa.
He added: “If they want to name a bench in a ZANU PF office or even a meeting hall at their headquarters after Mbeki that would be fine. But not a national issue, because that would give a misconception of historical events.”
Gordon Moyo, the MDC-T shadow Minister for International relations and Cooperation, said the idea of honouring our leaders is a noble one and Mbeki had done a lot for Africa in general, but he disagreed with Marumahoko regarding Mbeki’s role in Zimbabwe.
“Mbeki was working on the side of ZANU PF when it came to issues of Zimbabwe, to be very specific. He was the kind of facilitator who was playing on the same side as one of the players. We understood and said this from day one,” Moyo told SW Radio Africa.
“Because he shared the history of the liberation struggle and because he believed in the liberation movement, he preferred ZANU PF. We were of aware of that,” Moyo explained.
Mbeki was strongly criticized for his policy of so-called quiet diplomacy, which saw the former South African leader refusing to criticize Robert Mugabe or ZANU PF publicly, despite events in Zimbabwe pointing to their complicity in violence, political harassment and intimidation of the electorate.