Zimbabwe – Lessons in Quiet Diplomacy

South African President, Thabo Mbeki has maintained a so-called policy of quiet diplomacy with regard to the Zimbabwe situation. This policy apparently dictates that South Africa (and the world) should not interfere in the affairs of Zimbabwe, turn a blind eye to the deteriorating political, social and economic situation there, and insist foolishly that there are no problems existing, even though the election results of March 29, have not been released yet.

On Wednesday, while chairing a summit of the U.N. Security Council and African Union at the United Nations offices in New York, he failed to use the opportunity to show any form of leadership while millions of Zimbabweans and indeed the world, waited with baited breath for him to make a stand on the Zimbabwe crisis. Instead he chose to make the following facile statements at a news conference “We need to talk at all times with both the ruling party and the opposition,” and “You’ve got to sit and discuss with them.” Wow, what a revelation. When the world is waiting for you to say something inspiring, you say the equivalent of “water is wet.”

This leads me to conclude that all is not well with the South African President. True to recent form, he has steadfastly refused to waiver from the course he has set for himself; one of denial. Is there something that forces him to hold this course? What could it be? Blackmail? Has Robert Mugabe got something on the President? Is it the same thing that prevents certain “wayward” Ministers in our own cabinet from being axed? What could Mugabe and our (wayward) Ministers possibly have on the President that could hold him to ransom and prevent him from making just and sane decisions? What other explanation is there for a reasonably intelligent President, as Thabo Mbeki to behave so irrationally?

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