Mhambi has been redeployed.

Friday, March 23, 2007

CBS News 1994: Mugabe Reassures White South Africans

The blog ConstitutionallyspeakingSA posted this remarkable video about Zimbabwe, and had this to say about it:

"This is a CBS documentary on Zimbabwe, which was broadcasted the week before South Africa's 1994 election. It argues that whites in South Africa has little to fear and shows Mugabe telling South African whites not to be scared.

Rather an ironic piece, I must say. For right wingers it will confirm all their racist fears. For the rest of us it will remind us how wise the fathers and mothers of our Constitution was for limiting the term of the President to two five year terms."

Mhambi agrees, but having the South African constitution with its checks and balances without other large counter forces would probably not be enough. The fact that South Africa has a big industrial base, a massive union movement, a strong civil society, no majority ethnic group (like the Shonas in Zimbabwe) and a much larger black industrial working class and black middle class are all positives that helps to prop up the constitution and makes South Africa allot more complex.

In fact South Africa's economy is more than 22 times the size of Zimbabwe's and Zimsbabwe's white population at its height (1980) was no more 400,000. Comparisons are only that useful.

But not everything in this video is off the mark however. The vast majority of South Africans have not only not seen their hopes realised, their lives are like Zimbabwe in 1994 - worse.

It is this situation - the governmenents inability to lift up poor Zimbabweans - that the MDC (a broad church made up of Union members and democrats) eploited to create a meaningful oposition to Zanu-PF around 1997. Mugabe had nearly 20 years to begin land reform, but had not done so. Suddenly, feeling his power threatened, as an act of diversion he instigated farm invasions, popular with the rank and file Zimbabwean.

The ANC has done very little to better the lives of poor South Africans. Will they try this kind of populist tactic if threatened by popular discontent?

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Steve Hayes said...

That is why the tripartite alliance is so critical. Cosatu represents the same constituency in South Africa as the MDC does in Zimbabwe.

Wessel said...

I agree that the MDC represents the same constituency as Cosatu.

But why is the aliance itself critical?