News / South Africa

Gosebo Mathope
2 minute read
14 Jul 2017
1:56 pm

Mbeki: Zimbabweans must resolve their own political problems

Gosebo Mathope

Mbeki revealed that although they criticised Mugabe in a document that was leaked to the media, he urged MDC to take charge of the process and not rely on the ANC.

Former President Thabo Mbeki. (File Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Moeletsi Mabe)

Former president Thabo Mbeki has defended his government’s stance on Zimbabwe, saying only Zimbabweans can resolve the political impasse in that country.

“If you are a president of South Africa, what you need to do is do whatever is possible to do what serves the people of South Africa, and one of the things you need to do is to develop good relations with the world,” he said during a conversation with Gauteng-based commercial radio station Power FM.

In reference to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, he said: “That doesn’t mean we agree with the things they do,” and disclosed that Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) wanted the ANC to intervene and institute a process that would effectively lead to a “constitutional amendment”.

“I met Mugabe at Jan Smuts Airport [now OR Tambo] and told him that we have been approached [by MDC]. That was our first political engagement in that situation.

“In the end, we prepared a 30-40 page critique of what was happening in Zimbabwe and sent it to Zanu-PF to prepare for a meeting between us [ANC and Zanu-PF],” he said, without giving details.

READ MORE: No, Zuma must not go – Mbeki

Mbeki sounded unimpressed with MDC’s abdication of their responsibilities by expecting the ANC leadership to fight their battles, saying the MDC was aggressively lobbying him and other leaders to play a proactive role towards the amendment of the constitution.

Mbeki said the report in which ANC criticised Mugabe was leaked by a local newspaper.

“We said they [Zanu-PF] were doing wrong things, in the context of resolving conflict, it really is the responsibility of South Africans to resolve South African problems. When an external solution is imposed … locals never take ownership of the solution, that is what we said to Zimbabweans,” he said.

Mbeki dismissed Power FM host Given Mkhari’s characterisation of his approach at the time as quiet diplomacy. Mbeki said: “Diplomacy is diplomacy, there is no such thing as quiet diplomacy. We said to them we are not going to draft a resolution for you.”


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