BYLINE: POLITICAL BUREAU
FORMER president Thabo Mbeki said the Zimbabwean government deliberately postponed "any action to resolve the land question", in order to allay white fears in South Africa, and not to alarm the apartheid regime.
Speaking in Doha, Qatar, on the history of SA negotiations at a forum organised by international news channel al-Jazeera, Mbeki said this had the effect of bringing the National Party to the negotiating table. "The leadership of independent Zimbabwe understood that radical land reform in their country would have alarmed the apartheid regime, encouraging it to oppose the negotiations on the basis that the ANC would follow the Zimbabwe example and dispossess the SA whites of their land and property," Mbeki said.
After 20 years of independence, Mugabe implemented a violent land policy by unleashing "war veterans" to grab farms following the loss by Zanu-PF of a referendum on the constitution in 2000.
Mbeki, who was a mediator in the Zimbabwean conflict, was accused by the opposition MDC of siding with Mugabe, but managed to strike a government of national unity deal in 2008. Mbeki refused the initial request to address the forum on the relevance of the South African experience of "talking to the enemy" to the struggle to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict, because of "the complexity" of that conflict.
But he criticised Israel's complacency, buoyed by international support and its security capacity, in not resolving the conflict speedily.
"The Israeli political and security establishment seems to be more at ease with, and finds it more comfortable to confront a violent threat rather than a concerted political-diplomatic offensive.
"I would hazard the guess that this is because it has absolute confidence in the power and effectiveness of its security organs, loyally supported by the military. …