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Mandela and Mugabe
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
14 August 2019, 3:50 PM


This week we focus on former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s visit to South Africa.

Mugabe was the first African Head of State to visit Pretoria following the watershed 1994 general elections.

Then President Nelson Mandela hailed the August 16, 1994 state visit as testament to the good relations between the people of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The countries were united by the liberation struggle.

At the time of Mugabe’s visit – Zimbabwe had gained independence from Britain 14 years earlier, while South Africa had just broken free from the shackles of oppression by minority rule.

His visit came a day after the Organisation of African Unity’s Coordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa was dissolved.

The committee had been instrumental in galvanising international support and providing financial assistance to liberation movements whose members were based in Tanzania, Mozambique, Lesotho and Angola, among other countries.

Watch video on the history of the Organisation of African Unity now known as the African Union:

Trade ties

Speaking at a State Banquet for Mugabe, President Mandela thanked Zimbabweans and their leader in particular for their contribution to the liberation struggle and committed South Africa to work together with Zimbabwe, especially in the tourism sector, to make Southern Africa a premier tourist destination.

Head Researcher at Milpark Business School Dr Sam Koma says 25 years on, the dream remains elusive due to various reasons.

While South Africa and Zimbabwean trade ties are historic, the advent of democracy marked a new beginning in the relationship, casting away old constraints. Mandela believed the new era meant both countries could now negotiate terms as equal partners with the same hope for the continent.

”Today, at last, we can co-operate as free nations, pursuing the true interests of our people. Zimbabwe and South Africa not only share borders, we have strong cultural and historical connections as well. It is now the time, Mr President, to give substance to our relationship and to strengthen and expand the social and historical links which form the bond between our two countries,” said Mandela.

Koma says the trade relations remain strong, precisely due to the historic relationship between Zimbabwe and South Africa’s governing parties, the African National Congress (ANC) and Zanu-PF.

However, he says, the lack of trust is hampering intra-trade growth among African countries.

“You still have some SADC countries, including Zimbabwe, that prefer doing business with European countries and the Chinese,” Koma adds.

Other areas of cooperation

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Commission worked with Eskom in integrating the electricity supply grids in the region.

Zimbabwe also helped train South African police officers who were to be integrated into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Read more about the transformation of the South African Police Forces:


Political ties

Relations between the two countries have largely remained cordial over the years.

However, signs of strain emerged when Mandela tried to broker peace in the war between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda in 1998.

Zimbabwe was involved in the war, supporting then DRC President Joseph Kabila’s troops.

Mugabe slammed the global struggle icon for his attempt to intervene, saying South Africa was acting like a neo-colonial power within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc.

Madiba then withdrew his efforts and then began South Africa’s quiet diplomacy.

Former President Thabo Mbeki endured protracted criticism during his tenure for democratic South Africa’s posture on Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

Some interpreted his administration’s stance as a slap in the face for ordinary Zimbabweans who bore the brunt of Mugabe’s tyrannical rule.

Mbeki admitted in 2004 that South Africa’s quiet diplomacy in Harare had failed, while Mandela only spoke out in 2008 against Mugabe’s regime.

He attributed Zimbabwe’s declining political and economic state to a failure in leadership.

Watch Mbeki addressing the Zimbabwean political impasse:

Mugabe only returned on a state visit to South Africa in 2015 during Jacob Zuma’s term as President of the country, 20 years after his first visit.

He defended his country’s controversial land reform, saying it meant to right the wrongs of the British government.

Mugabe lashed out at former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, accusing him of backtracking on an agreement his government clinched with Margaret Thatcher’s administration – that there shall be a land reform programme and land should be taken from farmers and be given to Zimbabweans.

Watch related video:

In 2017 Mugabe raised the ire of then ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe when he slammed Mandela as having cherished his personal freedom over the economic freedom of his people.

Mantashe hit back at Mugabe, urging Zanu-PF  to rein in the elderly statesman.

Watch related video:

Zim’s economic woes

Some researchers believe Zimbabwe’s economic turmoil began when the country intervened in the second Congo war in 1998.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank suspended their aid to Harare in protest of the move. Inflation rates soon skyrocketed climbing to almost 60%.

The invasion and seizure of white-owned commercial farms in 2000 was the final nail in the coffin, leading to Western governments slapping the country with sanctions.

Now the country is battling frequent blackouts, high unemployment, petrol and food prices as well as currency shortages.

Hundreds of Zimbabweans have also flocked to South Africa in search of a better life and economic opportunities.

Mugabe was booted out of office in 2017.

His former ally Emmerson Mnangagwa took over as interim President and was formally elected into office in the July 30, 2018 parliamentary and presidential elections.

While the poll was largely hailed as free and fair – soldiers shot dead at least six opposition protesters in Harare in a post-election demonstration.

Protesters were upset over alleged vote rigging.

Watch related videos:

And it seems like South Africa’s quiet diplomacy continues.

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed concern over the post-election violence and called for calm without rebuking Zimbabwean soldiers for their heavy handed response against protesters.

Milpark Business School’s Dr Sam Koma blames this on a failure of African leaders to put the public’s interest above that of political parties.

“That is the problem with liberation movements. They are unable to publicly take an unpopular political stance against their ally and neighbour,” he says.

Watch related video looking at Zim-SA relations:

Overcoming alcohol addiction: A tale of two recovering alcoholics
13 August 2019, 5:45 PM

Alcohol consumption is expensive in South Africa due to the sin tax.

This, however, doesn’t stop South Africans from indulging in a tipple or two.

And, those who do – according to the 2018 World Health Organisation’s Global Status report – drink excessively.

Our Producer Lindiwe Mabena caught up with two recovering alcoholics whose lives were once turned upside down by alcohol.

Watch their story below:

Commonwealth Games chief Louise Martin
Commonwealth stands firm on shooting exclusion despite India threat
13 August 2019, 7:54 AM

Commonwealth Games chief Louise Martin insists shooting will not be part of the 2022 edition in Birmingham despite a threat by India to boycott the entire event in protest.

Martin has told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that the decision to exclude shooting from the programme for the first time since 1974 had come down to a question of logistics.

Shooting has been a high-yielding discipline for India with shooters accounting for 16 of the country’s 66 medals, including seven golds, at last year’s Gold Coast Games.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra suggested the country boycott the Birmingham Games in protest at the decision and last month sought approval from Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju for the move.

“A sport has to earn the right to be in the Games,” Martin told the paper. “Shooting has never been a compulsory sport. We have to work through it but shooting will not be in the Games. We have no space anymore.”

The IOA could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Telegraph reported that Birmingham’s offer to hold two shooting events had been turned down by International Shooting Sport Federation, which wanted a full programme.

The closest facility to Birmingham deemed capable by organisers of hosting a full shooting programme was in Bisley, Surrey, about 209 km (130 miles) away.

Martin, the report added, would try and meet officials on the Indian side and also intended to speak to Britain’s Sports Minister, Nigel Adams.

Unemployment sign
Numsa calls for a jobs indaba
13 August 2019, 7:51 AM

The National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) is calling on government to convene an urgent meeting with all the country’s social partners to deal with the job crisis.

The call comes at the back of an increase in South Africa’s unemployment rate, which is currently sitting at 29%.

The union is accusing the ANC-led government’s macro and micro economic policies for the jobs bloodbath.

“However, one of the glaring challenges is the protracted investment strike that the private sector has embarked on over the past two decades. This, coupled with the ANC’s neo-liberal agenda is directly responsible for destroying jobs, and severely de-industrializing our country,” reads the statement issued on behalf of Numsa’s General Secretary Irvin Jim.

Numsa accuses the private sector of exploiting Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act to justify retrenchment of workers in the name of restructuring and re-organising. “Today’s global distressed economic situation and South Africa’s poorly performing economy, such as the contraction of the GDP in the first quarter of this year by 3.2%, is then used as ammunition by these companies to retrench workers. It is against this background that Numsa is demanding that government must decisively intervene to stop what we regard as retrenchment patterns that are driven by the greed of the bosses to make money on the back of this global crisis and South Africa’s economic recession.”

It’s also expressed irritation at South Africa’s complacent attitude towards private sector corruption. The union is also concerned over what it perceives as pending privatisation of state-owned entities (SOEs).

“For instance, with government unbundling and its full-blown implementation of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (REIPP) Programme in the immediate, an estimated 7 000 jobs will be destroyed at Eskom. If the IPP plans are implemented unaltered as they stand, no less than 100 000 jobs will be lost in the province of Mpumalanga because of the closure of coal-fired power stations, which contribute to the local economy of that province. This has been confirmed by the CSIR and KPMG. We can also expect even more job losses at South African Airways, following the departure of former GCEO, Vuyani Jarana.”

Numsa wants all trade union federations, unions and civil society to participate in the proposed debate on jobs.

“This discussion must be facilitated by collectively agreed upon facilitators, approved by all stakeholders. Together, we must discuss job creation, and job security because these are issues of national importance, and find solutions,” the union adds.

It also wants issues of ownership and control of the economy discussed at the talks to come up with a job-led industrial strategy that must not only defend and create jobs, but also prepare South Africa for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Rape placards
Lesufi to visit Gauteng school rocked by rape claim
13 August 2019, 6:43 AM

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi will visit Thuto-Lesedi Secondary School in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg, today following allegations of rape.

Two grade 12 boys are alleged to have sexually violated a grade 9 learner in the school’s toilets.

The incident is said to have taken place during the break on July 25, 2019.

The boys have since been suspended and their disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for today.

“This is quite a serious offence if one were to be found guilty. The SGB (School Governing Body) will then have to recommend. If they feel that the learners must be expelled then that recommendation must still go to the Head of the Department who will then assess on the information or the case at hand and decide,” says Gauteng Education Spokesperson Steve Mabona.




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