Quote of the week

As seductive as certain perspectives of international law may appear to those who disagree with the outcome of the interpretative exercise conducted by this Court in the contempt judgment, sight must not be lost of the proper place of international law, especially in respect of an application for rescission. The approach that my Brother adopts may be apposite in the context of an appeal, where a court is enjoined to consider whether the court a quo erred in its interpretation of the law. Although it should be clear by now, I shall repeat it once more: this is not an appeal, for this Court’s orders are not appealable. I am deeply concerned that seeking to rely on articles of the ICCPR as a basis for rescission constitutes nothing more than sophistry.

Khampepe J
Zuma v Secretary of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector Including Organs of State and Others (CCT 52/21) [2021] ZACC 28 (17 September 2021)
2 April 2007

More about Zimbabwe: does it ever end?

A reader responds to this somewhat provocative post on Zimbabwe by arguing that just because Robert Mugabe said that Mbeki had agreed with him regarding the Western conspiracy against liberation movements, doesn’t hold much water.

Bob is clearly off his rocker and I’m sure he manages to perceive support where there is none, just as much as he is able to perceive threats where there are none. The Weekender had a different take on all this.

Some analysts have now also come out saying that it might not have been plain sailing for Mugabe at the SADC summit. The Weekender article seems particularly optimistic though. They write:

By the time the summit was over, Mugabe had been told by his peers that his time was over, and all that was left to do was negotiate a smooth exit. He was given two choices: quit at the end of his current term in March next year as he promised last year, or introduce far-reaching reforms to end the political and economic crisis.

But regional leaders are not waiting on him to act. Following the summit, the SADC is now putting together an exit package for Mugabe underwritten by western countries. Sources say the US and UK have drafted a five-point plan, including an economic rescue package, as part of the way forward to complement the SADC initiative.

I sure hope this is true, but we have been here before. On several previous occasions we have been told (also by Mbeki) that Mugabe had agreed to this or that course of action (and maybe he had), but the action never materialised. The SADC leaders argue that public criticism of Mugabe would only weaken their influence on them, but there is no evidence that they have any influence on him at all.

If the leaders of all 12 countries stood up and publicly announced that Mugabe’s regime had overstepped the line, that it was not respecting the Rule of Law or even the most basic tenets of human rights, it would have been a powerful statement not easily dismissed by Mugabe as the ranting of Western stooges.

Criticising Mugabe in private and showing solidarity with him in public is deeply dishonest and disrespectful to the people of Zimbabwe. It is also counter productive because – as we have seen – Mugabe immediately used the statement to secure a commitment from Zanu-PF for him to stand for another term. From my perspective, the SADC leaders are either deeply naïve and maybe stupid by thinking Mugabe will play their game, or they are really supporting him out of a sense of paranoid-inspired loyalty.

Maybe I am wrong (and I hope I am). If anything comes of Mbeki’s mediation, I will be the first one to apologise to SADC leaders. But looking back over the past ten years, I am unfortunately fairly confident that I will not have to apologise anytime soon – or, for that matter, until the cows come home.

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