Helping out Mugabe. ANC issues a warning. South Africa is sitting on the top of a very slippery slope.

The Irish Times – Wednesday, December 14, 2011

ADDRESSING DELEGATES to the congress of President Robert Mugabe’s
party in Bulawayo on Saturday, secretary general of South Africa’s
ruling African National Congress (ANC) Gwede Mantashe said his party
would help with strategies that would “deliver victory” to Zanu-PF in
elections expected next year.

Mantashe insisted, however, that the help the ANC would give would not
affect or compromise President Jacob Zuma’s role as a Southern African
Development Community mediator for the Zimbabwe crisis. The latter was
a state role, he suggested, while the position of the party which Zuma
also leads could be different.

Really, Mr Mantashe! The announcement is not only an outrageous kick
in the teeth to the democracy activists of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe who have faced beatings, arbitrary arrests,
and murders at the hands of Zanu-PF goons, but to the ANC’s own finest
traditions. But, once again, regrettably, the organisation which
ushered in and has presided over two decades of democratic transition
in South Africa, which stands as the embodiment of the hopes of a
continent-wide democratic transformation, is being seen to consort and
prop up dictators. Its, and South Africa’s, diplomacy, is sadly
becoming a crude caricature of the regional power brokering and
influence-peddling associated with the old imperial powers. And all
that, unconvincingly veiled, as Mantashe did, in the rhetoric of
anti-imperialism and support for former comrades in the liberation
movement.

It doesn’t wash. The record is clear. At the UN Security Council,
South Africa has – to use an American football term – “run block” for
former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo in attempts to defy an
election result, for the Burmese junta, Gadafy’s regime and that of
Syria. It has curried favour with China by preventing a visit by the
Dalai Lama. The list goes on.

And Zuma’s softly softly approach to the 87-year-old Mugabe, under the
guise of brokering endless failed mediation, has also been deeply
disappointing, serving to provide cover internationally for Mugabe’s
blatant thwarting of agreements to share power with the MDC’s Morgan
Tsvangirai, who defeated him in the first round of the 2008
presidential elections. With Mugabe’s allies pressing for elections
next year and the army/police apparatus still firmly in Mugabe’s
hands, the MDC faces a huge challenge in confronting what is
inevitably going to be widespread electoral intimidation and abuse.
The ANC has just promised to make their task harder.