Political analyst and academic Brilliant Mhlanga and Crisis in Zimbabwe and NCA activist Nixon Nyikadzino are guests on the programme. On Behind the Headlines this week Lance Guma launches the debate on whether a political compromise is the only way forward in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis. There are reports that talks are taking place between the opposition and factions within Zanu PF, but those talking are not willing to speak to the media. The debate seeks to unravel the web of stories around the issue and somehow make sense of who is doing what and why?
Soldiers beat up Mbare residents
Uniformed soldiers on Thursday descended on the High-density suburb of Mbare in Harare indiscriminately beating up residents. The arrived in two army trucks and began assaulting people using the rifle butts. A member of the Combined Harare Residents Association, Mfundo Milo, witnessed the assault and said it was completely unprovoked.
MDC activists badly tortured in police cells
The MDC has claimed that most of its activists who were arrested Wednesday when police stormed their party headquarters Harare , have been badly tortured by police. 4 of the 9 activists appeared in court Thursday and have been admitted to hospital with serious injuries. They face charges of attempted murder stemming from recent petrol bomb attacks the government is claiming is the work of the MDC.
Free-Zim Youth confront Angolan ambassador in London
The Free-Zim Youth (UK) movement Thursday made their displeasure known to the Angolan ambassador in London over allegations that Angola is to send 2500 police militia to help quell rising discontent in Zimbabwe . About 25 youths demonstrated at the embassy and presented a petition to the ambassador condemning the reported agreement.
Students urge Zimbabweans to support ZCTU stay-away
University students in Zimbabwe have said the mass stay-away organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is an event that will benefit the whole country and should be supported by all Zimbabweans. At a national meeting held last week they resolved to do everything in their power to make sure the ZCTU stay-away was a success.
SADC urged to take tough stance on Zimbabwe
While his ruthless state agents continued to abduct and torture opposition supporters and activists around the country, Robert Mugabe travelled to Tanzania Wednesday to attend an emergency Summit of Heads of State from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
Professor Hawkins talks about the impact of the current unrest on the Zimbabwean economy.
Tsvangirai detained in morning raid at Harvest House
Still recovering from his brutal treatment by police while in detention three weeks ago, Morgan Tsvangirai was detained again on Wednesday morning. He was about to give a news conference on the recent abductions and beatings of party activists. The opposition leader was held together with at least 20 other officials and staff members at the MDC headquarters in Harare.
More abductions as Mugabe continues crackdown
The arbitrary abduction and beating of MDC leaders and activists continued Wednesday with reports that state sponsored hit squads abducted MDC senior official Ian Makoni and his wife Theresa at gun point from their home. The MDC says the incident took place Tuesday evening and the members of parliament for Budiriro and Glen View, Amos Chisvuure and Paul Madzore ran away to escape the same raids.
Police abuse lawyers and deny access to clients
Lawyers in Zimbabwe have reported that it has become impossible for them to conduct their work due to intensified abusive behaviour by the police. Several lawyers have been assaulted or verbally abused in the last few weeks and in many cases, they have not been allowed access to their clients.
SA parliamentarians condemn Mugabe and tell him to go
Some South African Parliamentarians have called on Robert Mugabe to create a climate conducive for political dialogue in his country, as pressure mounts for him to step down, reports from Cape Town said Wednesday.
Author Cathy Buckle’s weekly letter.
Dear Family and Friends,
An air of quiet anger has settled over Zimbabwe in the past week as people have come to terms with the reality of what happened to opposition and civic society leaders at the hands of police. Those beatings followed by the refusal to allow two victims to leave the country for specialist medical treatment and then the assault with iron bars of an opposition spokesman just increased the anger and disgust.
Some of the World’s leading Human Rights defenders with Gugaletu Moyo, brought to you by the International Bar Association.
Why is Africa turning its back on Zimbabwe ?
Hot Seat debate with SW Radio Africa journalist Violet Gonda.
Broadcast on 27 th March 2007
Violet Gonda: We welcome on the programme Hot Seat, Dr George Ayittey who is a prominent Ghanaian economist and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC , heâ€™s also a Professor at American University and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. From South Africa we welcome Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng, the Head of Southern Africa and SADC programme at the Africa Institute of South Africa in Pretoria ; heâ€™s also a member of the African National Congress. Ralph Black is the MDC Deputy Chief Representative for the Tsvangirai MDC in the United States of America . Welcome on the Programme Hot Seat.
Dr Ayittey : Thank you for having us
Dr Makgetlaneng : Thank you very much for having me.
Violet: Now the focus of the programme today is on African perception of the Zimbabwe situation and many believe that the crisis in Zimbabwe has been largely ignored by African states. Dr Makgetlaneng, why is Africa turning its back on Zimbabwe ?
Dr Makgetlaneng: Africa is not turning its back on Zimbabwe . Leaders of Southern Africa have been addressing themselves to the Zimbabwean situation and South Africa has played a leading role on this issue. It has emphasised the point that the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis is the national task of Zimbabweans, that those who are not Zimbabweans, their task, as far as the Zimbabwean situation is concerned, is to support the efforts of the Zimbabwean people in their efforts to resolve their national problems or crisis. And, I think this is a valid point because it is the Zimbabweans who have to provide the external actors with a platform for them to contribute towards the resolution of the Zimbabwean situation.
Violet: Dr Ayittey?
Dr Ayittey : Well you know I think I deplore the role that African leaders have so far played, have displayed on the crisis in Zimbabwe . Look, when South Africa , when the blacks in South Africa were struggling against Apartheid, I donâ€™t think that anybody said that was an internal problem for the South Africans to resolve. I think all of us on the African continent mobilised to help the blacks in South Africa in their struggle for one man one vote and also to free themselves from Apartheid oppression. We Africans have a problem. And that problem is that when your neighbour is suffering, you go to his particular need and to help him. As a matter of fact, the current Chairman of the AU Commission, the former President of Mali, Alpha Konare says that heâ€™s fed up with this policy of non-interference. Now what he wants is non-indifference. Look, when one African country blows up it sends repercussions through the neighbouring countries. Weâ€™ve seen this happen in many, many, many countries from Somalia , Rwanda , Burundi , Zaire-Congo , Liberia and Sierra Leone . We canâ€™t just sit there and pretend that the situation in Zimbabwe is for the Zimbabweans to resolve. Obviously given all these years, they havenâ€™t resolved the crisis and therefore it is our business, OK, not to be indifferent anymore.
Violet : And Ralph Black, has there been a failure by African leaders in your view?
Ralph Black : Yes, sure. I think there has been a failure. I think the South African position of quiet diplomacy has been non productive at all. Part of Robert Mugabeâ€™s power or what has given his tenure substance or what has perpetuated his tenure in office has been the solidarity expressed by African leaders and the questionable motive of the South African government in dealing with the crisis. I think more could have been done earlier to bring the crisis to resolution but the indifferent response from the South African government and from African governments at large has been â€˜let the Zimbabwean people find the solution for themselvesâ€™. Itâ€™s like asking a cancer patient to heal them self when they need help from a Dr. Clearly the Zimbabwean people havenâ€™t been able to impress upon Robert Mugabe by peaceful means that he needs to leave power or open the democratic space; they have made several appeals to African governments not only to condemn him publicly first, in the first place, but to speak to him privately regarding his policies, and there has been an air of indifference. And I support Professor Ayitteyâ€™s position that there needs to be a transition from non interference to non-indifference. We must act to save other nations of Africa to pull themselves out of the doldrums.
Violet: And Dr Makgetlaneng you said earlier that the South Africa has been playing a leading role, now many Zimbabweansâ€¦(interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: I think they are missing the point, you know, the Zimbabwean problems are first and foremost an internal problem. It has regional, continental and international dimensions but you know but the point is simple; that it is the national responsibility of the people of Zimbabwe to organise themselves first, to have a dialogue and to propose a programme of action to impact upon the Zimbabweans in the resolution of the problems in Zimbabwe, and, given the level of their efforts to resolve their problems
Violet: But how are Zimbabweans who have nothing right now, nothing going for them going to be able to do this?
Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng: No, no, no I think if we focus on the external actors including African leaders, we are missing the point. They have a role to play to contribute towards the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis, but the primary task is that of people of Zimbabwe . Let us take the South African case, brutal measures were visited upon South Africans in their attempts to resolve their problems but it did not prevent the South Africans from embarking upon a programme of action to solve their national problems, and the level of their efforts determined the efforts of the internal, external actors in supporting their case. I think we have to address ourselves to the nature of the programme of action impact upon Zimbabweans. This is the key issue, no one is going to resolve Zimbabwean problems except Zimbabweans.
Dr Ayittey: Well sir, with all due respect, I thinkwhat youâ€™re saying is theoretical. Theoretical in the sense that all of us have reasonsâ€¦ (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: You mean, you mean South African leaders areâ€¦
Violet: Dr Makgetlaneng let Dr Ayittey just say his comment and then weâ€™ll come back to you
Dr Ayittey : We all agree that just like South Africa , the problem in Zimbabwe is an internal problem and it is up to the Zimbabwean people to resolve it. But, there arenâ€™t any mechanisms for the people to resolve this. There arenâ€™t any mechanisms. You know, you wrote in your paper that its up to the Zimbabwean people to pressure their government but Mugabe has blocked all these channels where the people can exert you know pressure. In the case of South Africa , the vehicle which was used, a Forum was created where a Convention for a Democratic South Africa was created where all identifiable stakeholders in South Africa met and debated a new established in Zimbabwe . If Mugabe wouldnâ€™t do it why wouldnâ€™t the neighbouring leaders or the International Community put pressure on Zimbabwe or on Mugabe to set up this particular forum?
Violet: You know, what Dr Makgetlaneng is saying, his views, sadly, mirror those from many other African states, that the problem in Zimbabwe is an internal problem and nothing to do with the rest of Africa , now what preciselyâ€¦
Dr Makgetlaneng: It has though, it hasâ€¦
Violet: Can I just finish? Now, what precisely can Zimbabweans do without assistance from the outside world when they have a government that rigs elections, that terrorises the Opposition? Ralph Black?
Ralph Black: I think Violet, I think the perception that we need to do more must be interrogated; we must discuss this. But when you witness what has happened in the last three weeks. The President of the Opposition is beaten and bones broken and right now a lot of the Opposition leadership is in South Africa receiving medical treatment. What are the South Africans seeking to see given the fact that as the MDC we have committed to a non-violent approach to resolving this crisis? The only other option would be to resort to violence, something that would inevitably impact on the region. And I would like to meet the previous point made, that during the South African crisis the solidarity shown by the Zimbabwean government for an internal issue within South Africa helped to resolve that crisis. So perhaps we are misunderstanding what the South Africans would proscribe to the Zimbabwean situation.
Violet: And going back to Dr Makgetlaneng, you know, some say there is too much terror on the ground in Zimbabwe and they say that there is no way that elections, or free and fair elections can be held next year under the present conditions. So, how important is the rest of Africa in helping this crisis along?
Dr Makgetlaneng: You know, no one isdenying the brutal viciousness upon Zimbabweans who are against the State and Government in Zimbabwe . But, the point is that if all avenues for change have been closed in Zimbabwe , obviously even violent means must be used against the oppressive regime in that country and the use of any means necessary against the regime will impel the outside world to act against that regime including in support of the people of Zimbabwe . I think we have, I donâ€™t deny the fact that you have quite a number of African leaders who are oppressive and one of the key reasons why they donâ€™t criticise their fellow African leaders is because of the form of their political governance. But, if you are convinced, as the people of the country that the outside world is not supporting you, what must you do to solve your national problems? Because, it is up to Zimbabweans who have to impel the outside world to act against the Government in Zimbabwe . I donâ€™t see any alternatives; the primary responsibility must be shouldered by Zimbabweans.
Dr Ayittey : But Sir, Sirâ€¦
Dr Makgetlaneng: The external actors will follow
Dr Ayittey: Sir
Dr Makgetlaneng: I mean in the case of South Africans, the South Africans were faced with this problem. Initially there was no support to the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, but upon the South Africans taking measures against the regime the outside world were forced to support the South Africans.
Dr Ayittey : Sir may Iâ€¦
Violet: Dr Ayittey?
Dr. Ayittey: Ok, what channels are open to the Zimbabwean people right now?
Dr Makgetlaneng: Iâ€™m not Zimbabwean! Zimbabweans must findtheir own means to solve their problems and the support â€¦
Dr Ayittey: Well, if they cannot demonstrate on the streets, they cannot write any, they cannot criticise Mugabe because to criticise Mugabe itâ€™s a felony
Dr Makgetlaneng : You are saying thereâ€™s no alternative. The alternative must be provided by African leaders?
Dr Ayittey: Weâ€™re not saying that the alternative must be provided by African leaders. We are trying to indicate to you that all the channels are blocked, OK? And the people of Zimbabwe are totally helpless, OK? And we should not abandon them just as we did not abandon the blacks in South Africa .
Dr Makgetlaneng : No one is saying we must abandon Zimbabweans.
Violet: Dr Makgetlaneng many Zimbabweans say Mbeki has betrayed the people of Zimbabwe and that South Africans have everything in their power to bring Mugabe and his henchmen down by whatever means it takes, including embargoes on fuel â€¦
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, no, no
Violet: â€¦and power. Do you agree with this?
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, no, no President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has not betrayed Zimbabweans. The President has said over and over again that the people of any country must organise themselves first, must see to it that they have a dialogue among themselves first to solve, in their efforts to solve their national problems. People of other countries will support their efforts that is what the President of South Africa has said.
Ralph Black: Yes butâ€¦
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No one has betrayed the people of Zimbabwe
Violet : Ralph Black?
Dr Ayittey: That was South Africa â€™s own history and the history of struggle against Apartheid. And you know the ANC was very, very critical when President Ronald Reagan said he was engaging constructive engagement with the Apartheid regime, everybody was against that. So why is President Thabo Mbeki telling us that he is pursuing quite diplomacy when that quiet diplomacy according to the Zambian President has not produced any results?
Violet: And Ralph Black how do Zimbabweans get to the round table to negotiate when you have someone like Robert Mugabe who refuses to sit with the Opposition?
Dr. Makgetlaneng: But let meâ€¦
Violet: Can we just hear from Ralph Black?
Ralph Black: What is critical is thatsome form of mechanism, an indigenous mechanism, I think thatâ€™s Professor Ayitteyâ€™s expression, an institution needs to be established where the stakeholders come together and discuss the crisis. However, in the case of Zimbabwe , ZANU PF is not pre-disposed to that kind of situation. They havenâ€™t first recognised that thereâ€™s a crisis and they continue to tell the great white lie that itâ€™s the West and the imperialists who are causing the crisis in the country. And so, that mechanism, when all avenues are shut, how does that mechanism become effective? And I think the first step is that mediation will be ineffective as long as Robert Mugabe is in power. Once he leaves power mediation perhaps may have a chance and the discussion within the country may have a chance. So I believe that this is the direction that we need to go. I believe that the Zimbabwean people must have a solution. I believe that the Zimbabwean people do have a solution if given the chance to express their views without fear for their lives. And again, re-taking the same point, mediation in the absence of Robert Mugabe is essential.
Violet: Now Dr Ayittey you said that there’s a need for Zimbabwe to form its own indigenous institution. Can you tell us how such a vehicle is established especially in a country where the regime blocks plans to sit with other stakeholders?
Dr. Ayittey: Well the plan is when there’s a crisis in an African village the chief will convene a village meeting and put the issue before the people. The people will debate it until they come to a consensus. Once they come to a consensus everybody in the village including the chief is required to abide by it. That’s the way we solve our problems in Africa . This indigenous African political institution was revived in the early 1990s into a sovereign national conference. That’s what Benin did to move its country to craft a new political democratic dispensation for Benin in 1990. Exactly the same vehicle was used in the Cape Verde islands, exactly the same thing in Zambia and Malawi . Exactly the same thing in South Africa . In South Africa it was the CODESA â€“ the Convention for a Democratic South Africa. Back in 1991 there were 228 delegates representing all walks of South African society. They deliberated for about a month, they set up an interim constitution, set up an interim government and set a date for March 1994 for elections which President Nelson Mandela won. It is exactly the same vehicle and it’s an African solution, it’s not imposed by the West, that we should use to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe , Sudan , Congo , Uganda , Chad , Cameroon . The solution is right there, it’s just that it is the intransigence of the ruling regime. Look, if Zimbabwe doesn’t resolve its problem peacefully the country will blow up. We’ve seen Somalia blow up, Rwanda blow up, Liberia blow up. Why don’t we learn from our own stupid mistakes in Africa for a change?
Violet: And so what measures can the region take if this so called sovereign national conference is not organised?
Dr. Ayittey: Well right now the whole international community is divided in terms of what to do about Zimbabwe . Some people are calling for more sanctions, some people are calling for a blockade, some people are calling, look, we know what a vehicle is and our role is to project this and to sell this to everybody, that all of us must recognise that there is an African solution to this and that’s what all of us must rally and campaign for.
Violet: Now there are others who say that the African Union has rejected calls to put pressure on the Zimbabwe Government because they don’t believe it’s Mugabe’s fault but the West. Now Dr Makgetlaneng do you think that Mugabe seems to be remaining in power because of his anti-imperialist rhetoric?
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No I don’t agree, I think immediately the Zimbabwean situation has had a decisive impact on other countries in the region, some leaders of the region will criticize the Zimbabwe government openly and in public and they will devise a measure to respond to the situation, immediately the Zimbabwe crisis does directly impact on their national situation. But I think one of the key reasons why the government of Zimbabwe has not seen a need to have a serious dialogue with the opposition and the civil society, may be because of limitations of the opposition. I think that is the issue which should be addressed. Robert Mugabe’s an old person and very soon he will leave power. And you will have a new leader in Zimbabwe . And I am of the view that it is as if the solution to the Zimbabwe crisis will come from the ruling party itself. I don’t understand really why the leadership of the ruling party has not in public criticised Robert Mugabe but I think that immediately their interests are threatened by Robert Mugabe they will devise a means to remove President Mugabe from power as the leader of the ruling party and as the leader of the country. And as such I think there is a need to move the debate beyond the individual Mugabe, and I think it is not only Robert Mugabe who has to shoulder their responsibility despite the fact that he is the President of the country. But the leadership of the organisation …
Dr. Ayittey: If I may jump in. Look the crisis has degenerated to such an extent that not Mugabe alone or ZANU-PF alone can solve it. No one single party of individual can resolve it.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: I’m not saying that … But I think I joined this debate with an open mind but I’m disappointed that we are moving in cycles. I am not a Zimbabwean and I’m contributing in the debate not only theoretically but practically to help contribute towards the solution of the problem in Zimbabwe . It is not only the people of Zimbabwe who are facing a serious problem. You have been having elections in Zimbabwe , despite the fact that their results have been disputed by people and organisations in Zimbabwe and internationally. In other countries you have not been having elections. You have … (interrupted)
Dr. George Ayittey: We’re looking for practical solutions, OK. What we are saying, somebody like me, I’m not a Zimbabwean but somebody like me what I am saying is that look you can’t reinvent the wheel. What you are going through in Zimbabwe , and with all due respect I’ll say to pay attention to what happened elsewhere in Africa . We’ve gone through exactly the same similar experiences elsewhere in Africa . Look at West Africa : Liberia Sierra Leone , Ghana , Ivory Coast . Togo . We’ve gone through the same experiences where we’ve had one dictator there who is recalcitrant, unwilling to change, who when the people are fed up with them what happened? These countries blew up. We’ve had so many civil wars in Africa . Why don’t you tell the people of Zimbabwe or people in Southern Africa to learn from our experiences? Why should you repeat our mistakes in Zimbabwe and then cause the death and destruction of so many. Liberia is blown up, Somalia , Rwanda , all because of the adamant refusal of one head of state to relinquish or share political power. Can’t we learn from this?
Violet: Ralph Black?
Ralph Black: I think there’s a previous statement by my South African cousin there, has shown a lack of understanding of ZANU-PF. When you say that ZANU-PF fails to speak to the opposition because of limitations within the opposition you also would then suggest that the National Party failed, didn’t want to talk to the ANC because of the limitations of the ANC …
Dr. Sehlare Makgetlaneng: No no no …
Violet: Let him finish.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: Let us not engage in such a kind of debate …
Violet: Dr Makgetlaneng let him just finish and then you’ll come in
Ralph Black: I think what you need to understand is the mindset of ZANU-PF. Robert Mugabe is intransigent, he is stubborn, he is an old man that has had social and psychological problem, and this comes from people who work with him, in the ministry and in cabinet. ZANU-PF wants to hold onto power regardless of what it means, because they feel that they are entitled to be in power by virtue of liberating the country. They haven’t progressed. Therefore to suggest that limitations in the opposition, or that the opposition is also partly to blame for the situation, are unfair.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: I am not saying the opposition has to be blamed for the situation. I am saying that the limitations of the opposition should be taken into account because people are opposed to the issue that Zimbabweans must be led by the opposition to resolve the national crisis in Zimbabwe given that the resolution of the problem is the national responsibility of the Zimbabweans. The rest of the world will supportâ€¦
Dr Ayittey: Whosays people are opposedto the opposition solving the issue? Who said the people are opposed. Look you are distracting the issue. The basic bottom line is that itâ€™s the people of Zimbabwe who have to determine for themselves who will rule them. Even if the people of Zimbabwe want to choose a goat, let them choose a goat. Itâ€™s not for you to tell them that a goat is not good for you â€“ as if you are sort of pre-judging them. Look, they are smart enough to know who should rule them but you see the point is that you have divided attention to the weaknesses of the opposition and leaving the real issues. The real issue is the right of the people of Zimbabwe to choose who should rule them.
Ralph Black: That is correct
Dr Ayittey: That is what should be on the table not the weakness of the opposition.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, No, my, my, my, you know, you know, I donâ€™t know what are you coming from! My position that the Zimbabweans have a national responsibility to solve their problems. By that I mean they have a right to choose who should lead them. I donâ€™t understand what are you trying to say?
Dr Ayittey: So why are you bringing in the weaknesses of the opposition? For what?
Dr. Makgetlaneng: We have to bring it when we discuss the Zimbabwe situation.We have to bring it!
Dr Ayittey : If the people want to decideâ€¦
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No, No, No look in the South Africa case we address ourselves to our own weaknesses. We address ourselves to the weaknesses of the liberation movement African National Congress, South African Communist Party and so on. Even right now we are still address ourselves to the weaknesses of the ruling party and I am a member of the African National Congress. Why do you have a problem with the idea that we have to address the weaknesses of the opposition?
Dr Ayittey? Because you are skirting the main issues. The most important thing is the right of the people to choose their own leadersâ€¦(interrupted)
Violet: Dr. Makgetlaneng let him finish.
Dr. Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, Nothe problem is I donâ€™t understand why he is saying certain things he is saying. We must address ourselves to the weaknesses within the MDC!! It is that organisation that is characterised by profound weaknesses.
Violet: But do you agreeâ€¦
Dr Ayittey: Wait a minute
Dr. Makgetlaneng: And one of the key reasons, one of the key reasons, may you listen. It is not only African leaders but the people, particularly in Southern Africa , they found it difficult to support MDC! Because the MDC aligned itself with West!
Dr Ayittey: Fine! Fine Fine! That is your opinion.
Violet: Ok, hold on, hold on, hold on. Dr Makgetlaneng & Dr Ayittey can you hold on a sec! Let Ralph Black who is a representative of the MDC answer to that. Letâ€™s hear your thoughts on this.
Ralph Black: I think Doc â€“ My South African cousin, your involvement with the ANC has predisposed you to an attitude towards the MDC that is false. You have bought Mugabeâ€™s lie. That we are taking instructions from the west.
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, no, no
Black: Hold on, give me a chance. You have bought that line. Mugabe has consistently associated the MDC with the West when that, in his own view, he understands it is nothing but just propaganda. The crisis in Zimbabwe is a direct result of Robert Mugabeâ€™s failure to rule. It has nothing to do with the West seeking to install a puppet government. The land issue, the starvation in the country is a direct result of Robert Mugabeâ€™s blotched land redistribution programme. The economy is a direct result of Mugabeâ€™s failure to run the economy. The MDC was born of a challenge by Robert Mugabe do the then trade unionists to join the political fray if they felt they could do better than him. So your understanding is limited, your understanding of the Zimbabwe crisis is limited by the fact that â€¦ (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, Noâ€¦
Violet: Wait, wait Dr Makgetlaneng
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, No
Violet: let him finishâ€¦let him finish and we will come back to you
Ralph Black: You need to understand it from us.I think you need to understand it from the MDCâ€™s perspective. South Africa has bought the great lie! That the West and the imperialists want a puppet government in Zimbabwe . That is a lie. The crisis in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with the West. We do not see white people being beaten. We have not seen white people starving. We have not seen our journalists getting chased out of the country. We have not seen a mass of white people leave the country in greater numbers than the black people fleeing their own government. So I believe that until South Africa and the African region learn by their mistakes and accept that Mugabe has lied to us, has misled you. The problem in Zimbabwe is misrule!
Dr Makgetlaneng: I think I must speak to the producer.
Violet: Okay I will come back to you but letâ€™s hear from Dr Ayittey first. Now some of Dr Makgetlanengâ€™s comments reflect concerns from some Africans, that the civil society and opposition in Zimbabwe seem not to understand or respect liberation movement legacies. Do you agree with this Dr Ayittey?
Dr Ayittey: The MDC has its weaknesses so does the Mugabe regime. Look we can spend all night talking about the weaknesses of the Mugabe regime, the corruption that is there. The brutalities of the regime. It is not going to move the country forward. What we are looking for are practical solutions to solve the crisis. Right now we donâ€™t have anything on the table to resolve the crisis. Mugabe is simply intransigent and if we move this way the country could blow up. Look we have seen this happening in so many other countries and if that country blows up South Africa will be held responsible for shaking its responsibilities, â€¦(interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No No
Dr Ayittey : â€¦abandoning the people of Zimbabwe , which will be a shame!
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No. I donâ€™t understand. South Africa is not the continent. If there has to be a regime change in Zimbabwe it will be because of the people of Zimbabwe . It will not be because of the people of South Africa .
Dr Ayittey: It will be because of the people. Look, back in the 19 â€¦ (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: It is the reality, you canâ€™t run away from that realityâ€¦
Dr Ayittey: Excuse me let me finish. Back in the 1960s wasnâ€™t Robert Mugabe in Ghana ? Wasnâ€™t Kwame Nkrumah giving him training? Even when he left Ghana didnâ€™t he marry a Ghanaian wife? Ghana , we paid particular attention. We helped the liberation struggles in various African countries.
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No, look I really have problems with you because you are making statements which donâ€™t make sense. There are quite a number of MDC supporters in South Africa BUT so what?
Violet: But Dr â€¦ (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: There are so many people from the continent who are in South Africaâ€“ so what!?
Violet: But Dr Makgetlaneng you asked for the producer just now, and I am the producer of this programme.
Dr Makgetlaneng: Yes.
Violet: And I think in a way with all due respect, you need to be tolerant of other peopleâ€™s views. When you speak people donâ€™t interrupt you and you need to understand and accept that you have different view points.
Dr Makgetlaneng: No, No, No. No the problem is that you give them more time.
Violet: No, No, No.
Dr Makgetlaneng: Let me be simple. It is not the task of South Africa to solve Zimbabwe â€™s problems. The task of South Africa is to support the people of Zimbabwe to solve their problems.
Violet : No one has asked South Africa to solve peopleâ€™s problems. What people are actually asking is if South Africa does not want to work hand in hand with other African states â€“ they should butt out instead of blocking progress that other African countries want to do in Zimbabwe . This is preciselyâ€¦ (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: Which African countries? Which African countries?
Violet: I can give you an example â€¦ (interrupted)
Dr Makgetlaneng: Which programme of action has been blocked by South Africa ?
Violet: Last year South Africa blocked a UN motion â€“ they wanted to put the Zimbabwe situation on the agenda but South Africa blocked this. At the AU, they did the same thing. I have just given you two examples of what South Africa did.
Ralph Black: I think my South African friend needs to recognise that the South African government in the opinion of progressive forces has been disingenuous in dealing with the crisis. I think itâ€™s an excuse. A disgraceful excuse to say that the Zimbabwean people must solve their own problems but when they come to ask you to mediate, you tell them go back and solve your problems when there is no avenue to resolve those problems in Zimbabwe . South Africa has thrown obstacles in dealing with the crisis at the United Nations. It has thrown obstacles at the African Union. In fact South Africa and China have been the two nations that have blocked any action against Zimbabwe on the international forum. Action that would have helped resolve the crisis earlier. So it is, I am at pains to understand how it is that South Africans are failing to understand in resolving the crisis we need your support. We are asking you not only to condemn this brutal regime publicly but to seek to privately pressure it. We havenâ€™t seen that.
Violet: I am afraid we have come to the end of our programme but before we go I will just get final words from the three of you. I will start with Dr Makgetlaneng.
Dr Makgetlaneng: My position is that there is a structural need for the people of Zimbabwe regardless of their differences to find a means to have a dialogue among themselves first, and to exploit any available opportunity in Zimbabwe , regardless of the brutality of the situation. For it will be their programme of action which will determine the programme of action of external actors. Itâ€™s not the task of South Africa to solve problems in Zimbabwe . Its task is to contribute towards the solution of the problems in any country including Zimbabwe by supporting the people of the country. It is high time that we address ourselves to limitations problems faced by opposition political parties and civil society organisations in Zimbabwe because in the final analysis the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis is the national task of the people of Zimbabwe . This is my position.
Violet: Dr Ayittey?
Dr Ayittey: I will follow on his logic. Itâ€™s not the task of South Africa or any other African country to resolve the crisis in Darfur in Sudan . Nor is it the task of any other African country to solve the crisis in Somalia , Congo , Ivory Coast , Chad and the other African crisis like in Zimbabwe . Now it seems that we havenâ€™t learnt anything at all in our post colonial period and this is what makes Africa such a disgrace because the leadership have failed the people of Africa .
Violet: Ralph Black?
Ralph Black: I think that as a Zimbabwean, I think we are fully aware of our challenges, our limitations. We also have honest debate amongst ourselves regarding those limitations. But I do believe there is a responsibility, if we are to learn from our past, if we are to move from disgrace to grace that we must learn from our history that Africa requires principles and benevolent leadership and itâ€™s not going to come if we continue to foster the seeds of indifference to crisis around the continent. So I believe there is a need for an indigenous political institution â€“ an African institution â€“ to deal with the crisis in Zimbabwe . There is also a need for a singular plan of action by the region to give Mugabe no option but to talk to the opposition and civil society and there is no excuse why that shouldnâ€™t be done except that birds of a feather flock together, perhaps the African leaders donâ€™t want to condemn Mugabe because they themselves foster the ambitions of Robert Mugabe himself. So I believe that the crisis will be resolved. We pray peacefully and I hope again we can have another discussion with the gentlemen on line when things are different in Zimbabwe .
Violet Gonda: Dr. George Ayittey, Dr. Sehlare Makgetlaneng and Ralph Black thank you for participating on the programme Hot Seat.
Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africa â€™s Hot Seat programme (Tues 27 March 2007 ). Comments and feedback can be emailed to [email protected]