Former African National Congress (ANC) president Thabo Mbeki says Zimbabwe had to delay its land reform processes back in 1990 at least for a decade so that the ANC could successfully negotiate with the apartheid government in South Africa.

Mbeki says at that time the late former President Robert Mugabe wanted to take land from the white farmers and return it to its rightful owners in Zimbabwe.

He says if Mugabe had continued with this process, it would have prevented the apartheid government from surrendering its power to protect the white population.

Delivering the Robert Mugabe memorial lecture in Durban on Tuesday, former ANC president also called on South Africans not to forget countries such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe that stood firmly against the oppressive apartheid government.

“The then Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Chief Omega Anyoku from Nigeria then approached President Mugabe to plead with him to not change the Lancaster House Provisions related with the land question. And Chief Anyoku’s argument was that if Zimbabwe did something like that, moved to address the land issue correctly as they need to address it, it would frighten the white population in South Africa and make it more difficult for the ANC to negotiate with them. Could Zimbabwe hold the matter back? And they agreed,” Mbeki explains.

Mugabe and ANC

He says Mugabe and the ANC shared a camaraderie and mutual passion to work in the best interests of both countries.

“One of the cadres and comrades that we should always value as one of the combatants for the liberation of South Africa was President Mugabe and therefore there was absolutely no way in which if Zimbabwe was faced with challenges we would turn our backs. In 2000 there was a referendum in Zimbabwe where a constitution was rejected we were approached by the MDC who said to us can you please speak to President Mugabe. I remember meeting President Mugabe to make that proposal to him, ended up with the global political agreement signed in 2008.”

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