TO paraphrase the late British parliamentarian Enoch Powell: “All political careers end in failure”.
What we are witnessing as the Zimbabwean election drama reaches its conclusion are the desperate death throes of President Thabo Mbeki’s credibility and with it, his political career.
Over the past couple of years, Mbeki’s career has suffered a number of health scares. In December last year, he was defeated in his attempt to be re-elected as the head of his party, the ANC. The election of Jacob Zuma as the new head of the party makes him the odds-on favourite to become the next president of South Africa, and turns Mbeki into a lame duck.
With little or no authority domestically, Mbeki has only been left with foreign affairs as his final arena to redeem his career and go out with a victory. Central to that foreign policy he has been serving as the Sadc negotiator in the Zimbabwean crisis. However, Mbeki has found himself more and more isolated as country after country in the region steps up to condemn the violence perpetrated in the name of the presidential re-election campaign. He is now almost alone in the region in not condemning last weekend’s farce as either “illegitimate”, “out-of-control” or simply “a sham”.
Early last week his South African government failed in its attempt to scupper a statement of condemnation by the United Nations Security Council, which for the first time singled out the Zanu PF regime for committing the violence. Then, the South African president raised astonishment when he ignored an invitation by the Sadc regional meeting called to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe. As Mbeki was rebuffing his partners in Sadc, he was himself being rebuffed by his erstwhile colleague, Robert Mugabe. Mbeki had hoped to bring Mugabe and the leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai together to negotiate a settlement to the impasse. Instead, he finds himself ignored by the former and distrusted by the
As the chorus has grown calling for Mbeki to either step aside or share the position of negotiator for Sadc, further ignominy was been poured on the South African president, this time by his own party. The ANC broke their long association with Zanu PF and condemned them for turning their backs on their revolutionary principles and committing violent acts against their people. With less than a year remaining in his term in office and all these events collapsing around him, Thabo Mbeki has little if no time to resuscitate his severally incapacitated political career. We mourn the death of credibility, the end of political relevance.
Friends of Zimbabwe,