Sunday, March 18, 2007

Tutu blasts Mugabe

"....The assault on the opposition leader provoked an outraged response from around the world and appears to have reunited a fractured opposition in the crisis-stricken country.

However, the chorus of disapproval has not been heard in neighbouring South Africa, where the Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu strongly rebuked African leaders yesterday for their failure to rein in Robert Mugabe.

"We Africans should hang our heads in shame," said Dr Tutu of the largely lukewarm response from African leaders, who have hitherto given Mr Mugabe a lifeline despite his ever escalating human rights abuses. Dr Tutu, who together with Nelson Mandela is widely regarded as South Africa's moral conscience, asked in a statement yesterday. "How can what is happening in Zimbabwe elicit hardly a word of concern let alone condemnation from us leaders of Africa?" The bishop, who once described Mr Mugabe as either "mentally deranged" or "a cartoon figure of an archetypal African dictator," said all leaders in Africa should condemn the Zimbabwe government. Dr Tutu seemed to have been particularly angered by the South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has not commented on this week's turmoil in Zimbabwe.

Mr Mbeki seems to have delegated his deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, to comment on the matter. Mr Pahad has issued one statement which infuriated the local media by its call on Zimbabwe's opposition to help in creating an environment conducive to dialogue. Although the statement also urged the Zimbabwe government to restore the rule of law, it was considered a very lukewarm response.

Mr Mandela said in a statement to The Independent that he was concerned by the situation and hoped that African institutions would help resolve it....

Although Africa's response is still largely fragmented and South Africa, which has the most leverage to rein in Mugabe, has not said anything substantial, it seemed more countries were now breaking ranks with Mugabe.

After the Ghanaian President, John Kufuor, described the Zimbabwe situation as "embarrassing" to Africa, Mozambique, one of Mugabe's staunchest allies since the 1970s independence war from Britain, said Mr Mugabe should ensure a more open society to allow Zimbabweans to discuss their differences..."

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