ONE of South Africa’s most prominent politicians and business tycoons, Tokyo Sexwale, has expressed open disapproval of President Robert Mugabe’s leadership, saying he is a freedom fighter who has lost his way.
sing South African expatriates in London last week, the former African National Congress (ANC) bigwig and Gauteng premier, said Mugabe is a “freedom fighter” who has now taken “a wrong step”.
Sexwale, who spent 10 years on Robben Island with the likes of former South African president Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu as political prisoners under apartheid, suggested Mugabe’s leadership was misguided.
“When a freedom fighter takes a wrong step, it is time for other freedom fighters to stand up and say ‘we know you are a great man, but we cannot support what you are doing’,” Sexwale said.
Sexwale, who is now a high-powered magnate heading the Mvelaphanda conglomerate, appeared to be indirectly referring to the failure of African leaders, including South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki, who have so far remained hushed despite Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis.
He said it was important that South Africa observed the rule of law and human rights, values which Zimbabwe disregards with impunity.
Drawing an undisguised contrast, Sexwale said South Africa is “a country where the deputy president gets dismissed. It’s a country where Winnie Mandela stands trial. It is a country where the chief whip, Tony Yengeni, goes to jail. That is the country that I want to live in — where Mbeki, Mandela, all of us are not above the law.
“In my country the judges are not interfered with. In my country we do not seize land. In my country we do not incarcerate and torture our people.”
Despite Mugabe’s assertions that African leaders and former nationalists support him, there is a growing chorus of criticism of his authoritarian rule.
One of South Africa’s leading anti-apartheid crusaders and ANC stalwart, Cyril Ramaphosa, has said the Zimbabwean situation is making it very difficult to attract investment to the region.
South African Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni has also criticised the situation in Zimbabwe.
Nobel Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a strong anti-apartheid activist, a few years ago described Mugabe as “a caricature of an archetypal African dictator”.
Mugabe hit back at Tutu, saying he was a “bitter, evil little bishop”.
Tutu, who has attacked Israel for its “apartheid” against Palestine and the United States over Guantanamo Bay detentions of terrorist suspects, has also criticised Mbeki’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” towards Zimbabwe.
Respected Nigerian writer and Nobel Prize laureate, Wole Soyinka, has also hauled Mugabe over the coals for his leadership failures, showing there is a growing continent-wide criticism of his 26-year rule.
Regional leaders showed concern over what is happening in Zimbabwe during a Southern African Development Community summit in Lesotho in August, leaving Mugabe, who left the meeting in a huff, even more isolated. — Staff Writer.