BOTSWANA President Ian Khama’s call (Time for Mugabe to go, September 22) emphasises the glaring ineptitude of SA’s regional foreign policy. By aiding and abetting the catastrophic policies of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe over so many years, it has contributed to decline and decay in the entire region. In spite of all the years of Mugabe’s misrule, and an even greater catastrophe lurking, there still is no intent on the part of SA to stop the rot. Instead, Mugabe, 92, is revered as an "African hero". Former president Thabo Mbeki and President Jacob Zuma kowtowed to this tinpot dictator, ridiculing SA’s regional role. Now little Botswana shows the way.Zimbabwe is a failed state by all accounts, as Mugabe clings to power with SA’s help. A power struggle to succeed him will bring further chaos. SA must take urgent steps to ensure a peaceful transition in Zimbabwe. For its own and regional security, it must intervene to stop the rot.
Already, there is a leadership struggle, angry Zimbabweans taking to the streets, challenging Mugabe’s dictatorship, others fleeing in droves, 3-million to SA alone, adding to local unemployment, poverty and criminality. What more does SA need to act? Zimbabwe’s dependence on SA is almost total, giving it ample diplomatic leverage to bring the dictator to capitulation. SA must align with Khama, show leadership and restore its image as a leading African nation. A start could be made by informing Mugabe immediately to set in motion the mechanics of an orderly transition or face the consequences.
Prof Gerrit Olivier
University of Pretoria