It has become customary for concerns to be expressed from South Africa and elsewhere about the threat that Zimbabwe poses to stability in the Southern African region. Recently the shoe has been on the South African foot as seen from Zimbabwe – and not without reason.
The concerns, voiced by former Zimbabwean information minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, were reported by Anthony Butler in Business Day under the heading “More than a hint of truth in Moyo’s claims about South Africa”.
Butler starts his article by saying that the ZanuPF politburo member and former minister is not an altogether reliable analyst of political affairs. His refreshing comments about South Africa in the Zimbabwean state mouthpiece the Sunday Mail are nevertheless worthy of a moment’s reflection.
To state that Moyo “is not an altogether reliable analyst of political affairs” might be considered by some an understatement. The man is a political maverick and highly controversial.
He was Mugabe’s Information Minister only to be expelled from ZanuPF and later exposed in Wikileaks for being involved in an aborted plan including Sir Richard Branson and some influential African leaders to entice Mugabe to step down and hand over power.
After a stint as an independent in parliament Moyo returned to the ZanuPF fold and today he is seen as the mouthpiece and “strategist” for the hard-line faction within ZanuPF. In this capacity Moyo has made some seriously outlandish statements.
He nevertheless, raised some thought-provoking questions in his Sunday Mail article,The iIony.
Butler highlighted the article as follows:
“Moyo argued that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) can no longer turn a blind eye to the ‘security crisis’ unfolding in South Africa. The community’s biggest economy now poses a ‘regional security threat’ with four key dimensions:
•Recent years have seen the growing abuse of state power by political leaders, a trend that was recently exemplified by the 'naked brutality' of the Marikana massacre. The pattern of excessive force that Moyo laments includes police assaults and murders related to anti-corruption and service delivery protests;
•Moyo claims that Zimbabwe’s turbulent neighbour has seen the "nationwide deployment of the army in the place of civilian functionaries". How, Moyo reasonably asks, can President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team of Charles Nqakula, Lindiwe Sisulu and Mac Maharaj continue to 'pontificate' about confining Zimbabwe’s military to barracks when Maharaj has been feebly defending just such deployments in his own country? Moyo might have added that the official opposition has also demanded the deployment of troops in civilian areas and that military bases have been placed on high alert because one citizen, Julius Malema, decided to talk to controversially suspended soldiers;
•Moyo observes Zuma cannot play the holier-than-thou card on political violence because South Africa has 'by far' the largest concentration of political killings in the SADC. Most of them are "taking place in President Zuma’s own home province of KwaZulu-Natal" and
•Moyo claims that Zuma’s adviser Lindiwe Sisulu should not criticise 'selective justice' in Zimbabwe given South African law enforcement agencies’ treatment of Malema. Here once again, Moyo’s complaints contain more than a hint of truth.
Moyo’s conclusion is that there is "clearly more than enough on the horizon to warrant putting South Africa on an SADC security watch list — without ruling out (later) placing the beleaguered country on the agenda of the (SADC) Organ Troika".
Butler’s conclusion is that it is evident that Moyo’s argument, and Malema’s parallel claim that South Africa has become a 'banana republic', are not intended entirely seriously. But it is worth taking stock when this country and its president can be ridiculed so easily by the representative of an oppressive regime.
These days South Africa is hardly leading by example. At home the government and the country stutter and stumble from one fiasco to the next.
Across the African continent South Africa’s credibility is being questioned and is in jeopardy. The pillars on which South Africa's power rests are trembling and buckling under the strain. More and more questions are being asked, like the questions by Jonathan Moyo, whether South Africa is still worthy and capable of its leadership role.
Many South Africans are also asking these same questions and are waiting for answers, with trepidation.