In defense of Nelson Mandela

Why Mugabe is wrong to attack Mandela’s negotiated settlement as the cause for xenophobia in South Africa.

The recent (May 21st) statement by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that former South African president Nelson Mandela did not do enough to grant black South Africans a stake in the economy is not only obfuscation of the real cause of xenophobia in South Africa but is an unwarranted attack on a deceased person's integrity and what Mandela did for South Africa.  As usual, finger pointing and baiting of others is Mugabe’s stock in trade. The whites in Zimbabwe and South Africa must lose everything for blacks to have something - there is something seriously wrong with this argument? Africans do not need to become murderers to become whole! The teaching that a settler is always a settler is venomous because it assumes all immigrants to a region with legal citizenship can be kicked out if the lines are drawn backwards. This is a weird idea from someone, according to Wikipedia, whose deceased father migrated from Malawi’s Tumbuka region (Gabriel Matibili). Perhaps this explains an obsession with citizenship and the anger (sometimes anti-Semitic) Mugabe has become known for. 

Xenophobia in South Africa is being caused by a lack of policy that deals with refugees and job creation in South Africa. Mandela did as much as one man can do in a life time. This is the difference between Mandela and Mugabe, whereas Mandela understood that he alone does not have all the solutions Mugabe does not understand this. One leader or one man cannot do everything! Saul was chosen by God to be King, but so was King David; at a later date. Mugabe is not the only person for Zimbabwe.

South Africans must not be timid in defending Madiba against Mugabe's gratuitous attacks; and should cease to be cowed by him. I for one am upset by this because I knew Madiba personally, I did not merely read about Mandela in a magazine or newspaper. At the end of the day its a question of ubudoda (manhood) to remain silent as Mugabe distorts African history: past, present and future. While Madiba was no saint his strategy and courage for fighting to end Apartheid resulting in 27 years of imprisonment was and still is a commendable effort. Mugabe and the late Joshua Nkomo fought hard to end the racism of Rhodesia - that too is commendable, credit has to be given where it's due. But Africans should not expect all solutions to start and end with Mugabe and Mandela, as Mugabe would like us to believe.

As for xenophobia in South Africa, as I noted on another article addressing South Africa’s foreign policy in that country’s national newspaper City Press (SA, Time to Get Tough with Africa) - South Africa needs a more tailored doctrine that deals with the lack of democracy in the region, including Zimbabwe. South Africa needs a refugee policy, educating its citizens about the dangers of xenophobia and mostly job creation for South Africans. 


Communism is the real problem:

In hindsight it's easier to point fingers at others than to lay the blame squarely on one’s self. The reason that Zimbabwe has failed, is that it adopted Marxist policies (communism) and according to communism you have to redistribute the wealth. South Africa must say no to Communism and no to Mugabe, while lifting the teachings and legacy of Madiba. All modern states have some social programs, this is different from communism as a market policy! By its nature communism destroys itself, it creates a party oligarchy of kingpins who are wealthy while the rest of the country struggles for dear life. Whether it is in Romania, the former Soviet Union or China - communism is a very authoritative system that strives on crushing ideas - and Mugabe’ is a good example of that. It is the fascist spewing monotone communism produces that is the real danger and not white people per se.
The regional leaders must ask Mugabe about the missing activist Ita Dzamara’s whereabouts and hear what he has to say! There is no statute of limitations on genocide, and at some point the remnants of Mugabe's government will have to account for human rights violations (crimes against humanity) like the Nazis' in WWII.  It's only a matter of time, and as to the degree of those violations. It is not a defense that "The Rhodesians did it so I did it too (sic)" or "why did you not raise this when the Rhodesians done it (sic)." Each state is accountable for its own human rights record despite the legacy of the previous regime, -  that is what independence means! One cannot say that, ‘ Since the Rhodesians did it, I did it too (sic),’ or that ‘why when it was done by the Rhodesians you said nothing (sic)’ - as a defense.
In South Africa, while Mandela was respected, it was not a cult of the personality. All South Africans owe Mandela an utter defense of his legacy, insofar as a communist sees it. It is a falsehood that South Africans hate the rest of Africa, many South Africans have ties with their northern neighbors - Albert Luthuli, the Nobel Prize laureate for example, was born in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).
Obviously Mugabe is an educated man, but what he does not understand is that education does not give one the right to attack dead people; or to cleverly paint them in a degrading manner. I understand Mugabe routinely attacks his colleague, the late Joshua Nkomo, founder of the nationalist movement in Rhodesia, as well. There is shame in this.
My greatest prayer is that perhaps Mugabe can live long enough to reflect on his words and on his Zimbabwe. And that he might be as meaningful to Zimbabweans as he was to them in the beginning. He is truly an exemplary African Hero, in so far as African freedom and liberation is concerned (and many South Africans do admire and appreciate him, including myself), but his time for being an effective politician has long past. I pray that he may retain his earlier message and be buried with the full honors befitting his past contribution to Africa. We want to remember Mugabe the revolutionary, not Mugabe the man who attacked a deceased Nelson Mandela as inept.
...And so that when Mugabe's time comes we will honor him as a true King that he is ---- Mwenemutapa.

Ken Sibanda is an American Constitutional Lawyer.