Support Zuma - Mugabe

BY CHARL BOSCH - APRIL 9, 2015

Veteran Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe, has called-on South Africans to stand behind President Jacob Zuma and stop “accusing him”.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, as part of his two-day state visit to the country, his first since 1994, Mugabe stated that he doesn’t mind what is being said about him, but that Zuma needs the support of the nation.

“He is your leader and you must respect him, you can tarnish me, I don’t care, but you must have the national spirit, the national consciousness,” Eyewitness News quoted him as saying.

Referring to South Africa as his nation’s “elder brother”, Mugabe paid tribute to Pretoria for its tolerance of illegal immigrants and helping to add value to its extensive assortment of natural resources.

Responding to the recent upheaval surrounding colonial era statues, Mugabe said he hopes South Africa had buried its Apartheid past “like we did [with Cecil] Rhodes” before urging the country to adopt his much publicised and controversial land reform programme.

Prior to his visit, Presidency Spokesperson, George Charamba, denied allegations that Mugabe’s visit was about seeking funding to help build his country’s faltering economy, saying they had come to pursue partnerships and not to beg.

“We are a bit unhappy that we are being portrayed as coming here with a begging bowl asking for money,” Independent Media quoted him as saying.

“The South African government knows that we are a viable state which is in fact a strong trading partner. So really we are talking about a viable state seeking a partnership with South Africa, not some kind of financial assistance. That is a handed-down perception of an African country, which is historically wretched. We need to outgrow that.”

In a statement, Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Stevens Mokgalapa, described the Zimbabwean president visit as “problematic” and that government’s “veneration of President Mugabe is irresponsible, insensitive and a disservice to people who have suffered under his rule”.

“Our government should not be rolling out the red carpet and celebrating a man whose regime has discharged atrocities on its own people,” Mokgalapa said.

“Mr Mugabe has presided over years of institutional human rights abuses including the use of political violence against opponents and the crippling of the country’s economy. Today South Africa hails him as a hero. How can it be?”

Mokgalapa also said that engagements with Mugabe is needed, but “ignoring the intolerable pain inflicted by his repressive regime on the people of Zimbabwe renders South Africa’s human rights-based foreign policy meaningless”.