Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mandela: Right Sentiments, Wrong Country

I know Nelson Mandela has the status of a living saint, but I find it gut wrenching how the media has fallen over itself to praise his remarks about Zimbabwe last night. Having, like his successor as South African President, stayed silent and done nothing when he could have intervened, his remarks have to come under heading of 'better late than never'.

All Mandela actually said was that "there has been a traguc failure of political leadership" in Zimbabwe. And that was it. Nothing about torture, violent beatings or murders. Nothing about intimidation at the ballot box or vote rigging.

There has indeed been a tragic failure of political leadership - not just in Zimbabwe, but by Mandela, Mbeki and countless other South African politicians.

53 comments:

Adam McNestrie said...

The way in which our politicians talk about Zimbabwe and the way our press covers it disconcert me. They concern me because there is something horribly empty to it all. We are listening to words with nothing behind them, ideals which are completely disconnected from the world. I think that there is a tendency for Britain, with its quick liberal conscience, to work itself into a fervour when we hear about unfreedom and human suffering. We ache to do something about it.

My problem is that this does us more good than the people of Zimbabwe: it is essentially inward-looking. No matter how much we believe it, no matter how much Mugabe’s regime appals us, Britain is not going to have a decisive influence. A political discussion which has reach a pitch of fever that implies that we can is almost distasteful. We have to acknowledge the realities of geopolitics and the limitations of British agency. Simon Jenkins was, I fear, right yesterday when he said that we could do nothing but give food.

To see more of my views read my blog, Just who the hell are we? on wordpress.com, at:
http://adammcnestrie.wordpress.com/

Guthrum said...

Sadly you have very little understanding of how race still plays in the politics of Southern Africa

bj said...

I don't know about the media "falling over itself to praise" Mandela. More like "falling over itself to report".

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Mandela should have been hung? Just like it said on the 'ol FCS Tshirt. Have u still got yours?

Anonymous said...

Nothing either about the epidemic of AIDS . Neither he nor his successor have done anything to tackel that

Hettyb said...

Well said, . My thoughts exactly.

Bart said...

Absolutely right, Iain.
Amazing the fawning media reaction to an exceedingly vague statement way too late.

Anonymous said...

Well said Iain .
I also believe his comments would have had much more effect had he spoken them in South Africa.

Anonymous said...

This is African politics.

You are a white colonialist. We are the poor impoverished not the least because we have been systematically raped and pillaged by our fellow citzens ever since you lot cleared off. And we are much better at it than you ever were.

Now send us the money.

(Where's that feckin' ejit Bob? Where's comrade Peter? What about another Live Aid - cut to Annie Lennox sobbing)

Anonymous said...

And what is Britain doing about zimbabwe?

Refusing to play cricket with them, that's what Britain is doing.

What a pointles action it is too, I dare say no one in their team is remotely connected to Mugabe or the military that is controlling him and Zimbabwe.

Not playing sport with someone because you don't like their government SUCKS. At least not playing cricket is an easy option that costs nothing, unlike say Anglo american ceasing operations in Zimbabwe, which would cost the City a packet.

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Not much to add to that. Hoiw the hell could he support Zimbabwe in that way?

JuliaM said...

"What about another Live Aid "

Oh, no, please! For the love of God, no!

It's bad enough listening to and reading the bleeding hearts. Why should we have to let them sing too....?

Victor, NW Kent said...

Mandela's words were hardly a real condemnation. He and Mugabe are links as "heroes" of the fight against white rule. Mbeki's role was safe and far away in comfort so he must always be subservient to Mugabe in that hierarchy.

Do not rely upon South Africa to do anything to cause Mugabe to resign. They are working on the same failed concepts of land redistribution.

The Mugabe problem will be solved by his death, whenever or however that occurs.

idle said...

Yup. I was left thinking: "is that it?"

I suppose the protocol amongst african leaders is that they are (almost)all so inept, some of them corrupt, that they agree not to criticise each other.

Botswana is a well-run place, though. Perhaps young Seretse Khama ought to be put in charge of Rhodesia for the next few years whilst they train up a few technocrats to run the ministries.

Kcila said...

Well said Iain! I couldn't believe the hullabaloo in teh media that this so called "condemnation" gained. I can see Mugabe and his murderous cronies quaking in thier blood stained boots now that Comrade Mandy has not actually told them off, or that the US are not going to acknowledge the election result or that England won't play them at cricket.....yes he's really kaking himself now!

Anonymous said...

Iain, you should get your hang Nelson Mandela t-shirt out!

Paul Burgin said...

Anonymous at 8:47
Mandela has done a lot with regards to fundraising to tackle AIDS.
The problem with regards to African statesmen is that there is a culture of avoiding making criticisms in public. With that regard the fact that Mandela and other African leaders have been saying something in public in recent days is encouraging, although, yes, I would rather that went further.

niconoclast said...

Maybe we have to face the politically incorrect truth that blacks cannot self rule.All the evidence is out there in er spades.The British colonialist leave and the natives return to type, killing and eating one another.Some black leaders were actual cannibals and kept body parts in the fridge.(Amin it)

These are tribal people and are incompatible with democracy.They wanted independence.Let us leave them to it.

We have a high disproportionate black crime here too which suggests that you can take black people out of tribal primitivism but you cannot take tribal primitivism out of black people.

Anonymous said...

Well said - having spent a few months working in SA politics, he and Mbeki get more criticism at home than over here. Keep it up :)

Ordovicius said...

Itr was to be expected. But what right have we to expect a 90 year old man to save the day? Let him enjoy his retirement. He deserves it.

Anonymous said...

Is that guy niconoclast for real?

Broon's Talking Bawgie said...

When I read about there having been a failure of leadership and affronts to democracy and stuff I actally thought he was talking about Europe.

As Ricky Gervais said, Mandela is an inspirational example of the effectiveness of prison. Prison completely rehabilitated Mandela - he has been out 15 years now and hasn't reoffended.

Well, unless you count receiving stolen goods (i.e. South Africa).

Anonymous said...

Nelson Mandela.

Probably the most overrated living person on the planet today.

And criticism of him is almost 100% taboo, despite him having many culpable weaknesses.

Anonymous said...

I quite agree with your comments.

Anonymous said...

I suppose Mandela would have criticised Hitler or Stalin for "a failure of leadership".

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Anonymous @ 9.40am

Many Zimbabweans need the "security" of employment by multi-nationals.

Caledonian Jim said...

Absolutely correct . The fawning liberal-elite seem to think a word from Mandela will solve everything .

When are our ruling classes going to ditch their undergraduate belief that the UK is somehow responsible for all Africa's ills ?

Anonymous said...

The significance is not what Mandela said but that he said anything: like a dog walking on its hind legs - the wonder is not that it does it well but that it does it at all.

The British media may have gone overboard in how they reported it but it won't go unnoticed in Africa. That a comrade has broken ranks at all is signficant. It is an African problem which needs to be solved by Africans - anything else would be spun as colonialist intervention.

Anonymous said...

The significance is not what Mandela said but that he said anything: Like a dog walking on its hind legs - the wonder is not that it does it well but that it does it at all. The British media may have gone overboard in how they reported it but it won't go unnoticed in Africa.

Boggo said...

I agree totally.

It doesn't often happen, so I thought it worth saying so.

Yak40 said...

Surprise ?

What was his and his ANC's prescription for SA that got him locked up in the first place ?

First Zim
Next SA
Then Botswana or Namibia....

It'll take a few years but the rot has already started tho' you won't see it in the newspapers.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to register my agreement, too. Was underwhelmed at first when I heard his comments reported. Then confused as to why it was being reported as the damning condemnation the world was waiting for. It was at best lame and at worst cowardly.

Bill Quango MP said...

The Sun says "Mandela slams tyrant Mugabe "

erm.. no actually

Anonymous said...

Notice he didn't say which leader he was referring to. All we know it was someone in Zimbabwe. Maybe he meant Tsvangirai and not Mugabe at all!

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11.03

"Is that guy niconoclast for real?"

I'd say niconoclast has got it spot on. Does that upset you Anon @ 11.03?

Personally, I always thought they should have hung Comrade Mandela, would have saved everyone a lot of grief in the long run.

Similarly, Smith and his boys screwed up when thay let Comrade Mugabe survive.

Jilted John said...

Oh, I think we could stretch to a little humanitarian intervention.

As long as it is self-financing. We've spent enough British money and lives* liberating people from dictators for one decade.

so that means concessionary mineral rights etc.

In other words, re-colonisation...

maybe we should leave it.


*considering that the 'war veterans' (which war? and when? Aren't veterans meant to have fought in a war? And be, you know, over 12?) are armed with sticks and sharpened slices of mango, we wouldn't have quite the problems we're having in Iraq, but with fuel the price it is someone has to pay the airfare and we can't afford it.

F T P Topcliff said...

I suspect the real reason for Mandela's reticence is shame. Or less charitably, fear that the world would remember he has the odd massacre under his belt himself (yes, AFTER he came out of prison). That would take the shine off St Nelson's final years.

Mandela ordered ANC thugs to shoot to kill at a passing IFP parade in 1994. 19 people were murdered following his initiation of the infamous Shell House Massacre.

The Truth and Reconicilation Commission later dismissed as specious the 'excuse' that the ANC feared the parade would attack its headquarters - as if that would have been a justification anyway.

Of course, as the wrong sort of black died the story withered on the vine. If it had been a centre-rightist rather than an ally of the SA Communist Party who ordered the murdered, the media would still be hanging it around his neck every day.

Read about it from the Independent "Mandela: Why I gave shoot to kill order" at http://tinyurl.com/5lfaqf

Anonymous said...

Didn't Thatcher call Mandela a terrorist? Don't recall her comments on torture, violent beatings or murders in South Africa under apartheid. Nothing about intimidation at the ballot box or vote rigging. Nada.

SC said...

Unfortunately Mandela has demonstarted the same timing on this as he did with AIDS in South Africa.
People die whilst he makes up his mind.
British intervention still backfires in Africa.
Until African leaders stand up to Mugabe, he will get away with it.
The next generation in SA do seem to be interested in fighting the new battles instead of the old. They are the only hope.

Anonymous said...

I guess you could say that Mandela is sort of the junior partner in the struggle against minority rule. After all, he was in prison when Mugabe was fighting against Smith. Mugabe certainly feels he was the trailblazer- maybe there's some sort of lingering respect thing going on?

canvas said...

iain, you appear to be ill-informed.


"Mr Mandela made it clear in 2004 that he would no longer intervene publicly in politics.

But his words will be an embarrassment for the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, whose mediation efforts on Zimbabwe have been criticised by the chairman of southern Africa's regional bloc and by Mr Tsvangirai."


Get it?

Anonymous said...

Hang Nelson Mandela!

neil craig said...

Well said Adam. Our media always make it a simplistic story of goodies v baddies IMandela has ben made into the former & ex-Sir Robert Mugabe the latter though it seems certain that even in an honest election he would get as high a % of the vote as anybody winning a British election).

I don't see that our sanctions are likely to help anybody & talking about trying Mugabe as a war criminal is guaranteed to make him refuse to give up power.

I could come up with a very long list of Brits more clearly guilty of war crimes if such trials were about law not power.

Peter Mandelson said...

Dear Mr Iain Dale,

This is a plea for help. I have become the recipient of a large amount of cash, 340 million Euros but I cannot launder it. I look to you, as an honest citizen, along with your illustrious Boris Johnson (a true friend of the European man) to assist me in transferring large ammounts of money into your bank account. All you have to do is provide me with the account details, and your secret password and I can transfer many of this money. I can guarantee you will get 20% of this money as a symbol of your kindness and potency.

Yours frankly

Peter Mandelsonofabitch

PS Pleas tell no one about this, especially Nigel Farage.

Anonymous said...

tories - sheesh

AfricanMum said...

Niconoclast, you're talking absolute rubbish. I thought people like you were extinct. Yes, Mugabe's actions are embarassing. It'd be great if he was remembered for setting up a great education system, and not remembered for this. It wasn't that great when Ian Smith and his mob were in charge either. If you were mixed race, you had to live in an orphanage as that was the only way you could see both your parents. People questioned in police custody had their testicles mangled in barber's clippers. One mixed race lady said she could never dream of owning her own home but for Mugabe. So things aren't as black & white as the media would portray it. And that knighthood must've been given to Bob when he was busy butchering Shonas before he turned on white tobacco growers (who were all happy to donate money to ZANU-PF till he talked of land distribution). And African leaders would have been condemning him in private, they just don't believe in compounding the shame we all feel at Mugabe by quarrelling in public.

AfricanMum said...

On land distribution, from Thatcher's day till 1998, negotiations were carrying on quietly as per the Lancaster House agreement, progress was being made. Then Blair's govt decided to pull the plug on negotiation. Then the MDC guys broke away from ZANU-PF and some white tobacco growers, sorry, farmers, appeared to shift loyalty to MDC, which led to the rash actions in 2000. Same people are now happily settled in Nigeria and other African countries where they're getting on with their lives and surrounding natives aren't actually eating each other, and show more courtesy to one another than you'd see on British streets.
And other African leaders would've warmed to Morgan Tsangarai (sorry can't spell his name correctly) if they didn't think his MDC was financed by Western countries, and he didn't have trade union/Arthur Scargill type of policies. Also, it'd had been nice if he sought refuge in the embassy of another African country and not the Dutch embassy - hence giving Mugabe more propaganda mileage.

Yak40 said...

On land distribution, from Thatcher's day till 1998

Seriously, as late as that ? Seemed to me things were more or less stable until he started to see some real opposition emerge, which is what you're saying I suppose !!

I was there in the early 90s and the place was very prosperous, they were building grain elevators as fast as they could to store the maize that was in huge, really huge, piles of bags covered with tarps at the GMB depots. Tobacco farmers were doing very well too, mostly exporting to the far east.

So sad to read about its current plight, what an awful waste.

that knighthood must've been given to Bob when he was busy butchering Shonas

You mean Ndebele, right ? When he sicked his NK/Chinese trained stormtroopers on Nkomo's people shortly after independence.

Anonymous said...

Lol...nice one Yak40.

Anonymous said...

AfricanMum

Pleased to hear everythings going well now that the evil white colonialists no longer have to pay to look after the place. Keep up the good work.

Casual Observer said...

Africa is a total basket case lead by a bunch of self-serving and thoroughly corrupt hoodlums who couldn't muster any part of a backbone between them and with varying degrees of psychotic tendancies. Quite why any of them should be expected to speak against Mugabe defies te logic of being an African 'Leader'. They just don't know the difference between right and wrong. They never did and they never will. I'm for cutting off their water supply lock, stock and both barrels and let them return to the stone age where most of them clearly belong.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there's a lot that Nelson Mandela can learn from you, Iain.

Anonymous said...

Mandela's legacy is[url=http://groups.msn.com/crimebustersofsouthafrica/_whatsnew.msnw]RSA today [/url]