“I could defy Britain, but I am not sure I could defy South Africa,” said Ian Smith in his memoirs after apartheid South Africa’s Prime Minister John Vorster read the riot act to him to start cooperating with nationalists to resolve the Rhodesian problem.
It was Vorster who pushed Smith to release detained nationalists in 1974 so that they could attend settlement talks in Lusaka, Zambia.
Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister, had tried, time and again, to dissuade Smith from going ahead with the Unilateral Declaration of Independence against Britain in 1965 and had admonished him and advised him to hand over the country back to the blacks.
Following Harold McMillan’s “winds of change” speech in 1960, Wilson came up with his own NIBMAR stance, an acronym for No Independence Without Black Majority Rule.
Wilson and others undertook many initiatives to knock some sense into Smith . . . the Fearless, Tiger, Malta and Geneva Talks, to name but a few, but Smith remained inexorably obdurate. Smith was a stubborn and arrogant man, a hard-nosed racist and supremacist, as hard as they come! He did not see majority rule ever happening in Rhodesia in his lifetime, “not in a thousand years”, he stated!
Despite a whole range of mounting pressures staked against him, isolation, UN sanctions, diplomatic onslaught from the Commonwealth, the West, Asia, the Soviet Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, the Frontline states, Africa, and an armed liberation war blazing in the countryside, Smith remained intransigent.
But, Smith had enough sense to know that the one voice he could not defy was South Africa’s, because South Africa could simply have pulled the plug on him and it would have been game over!
When Vorster instructed him to change his mindset and not only accept majority rule, but in two years’ time, Smith acceded, came back to Rhodesia and, handkerchief in hand lest the tears came rolling down, told his bewildered supporters that the game was up.
There was no, “Facilitators cannot dictate to us . . .” or “We will not brook interference, even from our neighbours . . .”, or any such talk back.
The Vorster/Smith power dynamics were self-evident and Vorster brooked no delinquency.
It took different strokes to bring about Zimbabwe’s independence, contrary to popular prejudice which runs in favour of only one factor!
And, much to Smith’s chagrin, in just under 15 years, the flag of imperialism came tumbling down and in its place, the flag of a proud new Zimbabwe flew.
But Zimbabwe is in turmoil again, and this time, the problems are of our own making!
Once again international, continental and regional pressures have assembled to cajole political players to do the right thing.
Zimbabwe knows how to hold credible elections, but there is this gaggle of malcontents who, like flies in a dirty kitchen, are sooner gotten rid of by simply sanitising the house, know that they can never win a free and fair election.
The regional body, Sadc, is now seized with the responsibility of whipping them into line. Resultantly, a GPA, so to speak, as there certainly is nothing global about it, was hammered out, culminating in the formation of a unity government, again though in name only, for all the indications point to “disunity”.
And to underscore this, one party, which considers itself the “active ingredient” in this Heath Robinson affair, has refused to implement some of the terms and conditions of the GPA on some spurious and sanctimonious grounds.
But the Sadc Troika, appointed to steer the Zimbabwean Titanic away from the perilous course, is having none of it, this time around. It has spelt out, in no uncertain terms, that the parties, more particularly, President Robert Mugabe, who has been identified as the culprit and deal breaker, “straighten up and fly right”.
For the first time, Sadc stood its ground. Lest a wink be as good as a nod to a blind horse.
Of course, we saw President Mugabe make some grandstanding bravado-laden remarks when he touched home-ground.
This was not uncharacteristic and is usual repertoire for him . . . like water off a duck’s back. He is a politician and obviously did not mean what he was saying.
But “Goebbels” and his sidekick didn’t catch the drift. They immediately set their tongues wagging and pens skiing . . . on a frolic of their own, of course, to Zimbabwe’s total embarrassment.
They said and wrote “unprintables” about the Troika in general, and about South African President Jacob Zuma, in particular, putting President Mugabe in the corner, for obvious pummelling.
There is an African saying which admonishes that, a dog which bites even the welcome guests should be kept tied up.
Anyone who had a decent and proper African upbringing observes minimum levels of civility, in discussing elders, not to mention Heads of State.
The same people have even put a law in Zimbabwe which punishes anything likely to insult and show disrespect for President Mugabe. One wonders why, by parity of reasoning, they do not respect President Zuma and the Troika.
“Goebbels” and his sidekick know no limits. They cry more than the bereaved, for good measure. It’s to do with the “meal ticket”, I suppose.
It’s like the dog which jumps all over its immaculately dressed master, on a wet day, with its dirty and muddy paws, soiling the master’s sartorial elegance.
President Mugabe can poke Britain in the eye . . . but could he do the same to President Zuma, and the Sadc-appointed Troika. . .?
Sadc created the GPA/GNU, gave the whole project its veneer of legitimacy. Without Sadc, this whole charade is illegitimate.
The whole GPA/GNU is a Sadc project and any talk of President Zuma or Sadc interfering is hogwash.
Yes, there have been some attempts to disown each other, among the authors of the diatribe against President Zuma and the Troika, and to tidy up and damage-control, but how far can one get in trying to wash clean in dirty water?
This pair is dangerously injudicious, and zealous to the core, in its approach and offers no good advice to President Mugabe. It loves the sound of its own voices though often time they make a cacophony of rambling and irrational noises.
Not even President Mugabe can call President Zuma and address him in the extravagantly disrespectful language that has been used to malign him. After all, President Zuma and the Troika are only trying to help us out of our own mess.
Not only is the language used disrespectful of a Head of State, it’s contemptuous of South Africans as a whole.
If I was President Zuma I would call for nothing short of dismissal of the authors of such diabolic political sacrilege or else . . . !
Not to mention that it ill behoves President Mugabe himself to continue to have such arrogant and delinquent braggarts in his team, for to do so, would be to condone and sanctify their uncouth behaviour towards President Zuma and the Troika.
What these two did is the biggest faux pas in international relations.