Open Letter to South African President Jacob Zuma Concerning Zimbabwe

Parliamentary Panel on Zimbabwean Situation Necessary
I write this letter with a heavy heart as I contemplate how best to address you and in a manner that creates a fruitful discourse between the two of us. The situation in Zimbabwe is likened to that of Pharaoh (Mugabe) and the Hebrews (Zimbabweans).
So I will begin earnestly and say Isitwalandwe Msholozi:
I am an American Citizen, born in Qunu, Transkei, South Africa and who wants to contribute as much as possible in helping Africa solve its own intractable problems. My law practice here in the States focuses on Africa, indigent rights and the victims of discrimination. I have met many a Zimbabwean both on my South African visits as well as here in the States, who are starving, desperate and confused.
The biggest confusion is why South Africa has turned a blind eye to their present political dilemma. There are close to two million Zimbabweans in South Africa. Two million from a population of 12 million is a lot. Does this not necessitate a parliamentary inquiry of some sought at this stage where the Zimbabwean economy is non-existent? Such an inquiry would be the minimum to be extended to a friend nation .
South Africa’s relationship to Zimbabwe, is not ANC-ZANU PF, but South Africans-Zimbabweans.
This letter is about democracy in Zimbabwe. It is not my place to ask you to judge Mugabe or the forces in Zimbabwe as our African culture demands that umuzi wendoda, - the wholeness of another person’s home - be given its due sovereignty. I must state though, that Bantu Culture and philosophy, which precedes Western notions of Democracy and was the very basis for the governance of various Kingdoms, including Mapungubwe, long before Western govern was transplanted in Africa, demands action to assist the neighbor. The violation of private rights in South Africa is staggering. Without respect for private rights there can be no democratic society.
We must not abandon Core African principles in substitution for Western Democracy. Democracy in Africa is African Democracy! It is not the heretic suggestion atet it is merely the evil influence of a third force. If democracy in Africa was the product of western thinking, then this negates Chi -Murenga ( Zimbabwe Armed struggle). What is at stake are common shared values that run the tread of all nations and countries: private rights, human rights and democracy.
The holocaust in German was not an internal problem, the genocide in Rwanda was not an internal problem and so was Apartheid, these are all human problems. What is so internal about human rights abuses? Africa should not create a salient culture in which human rights are not respected. There is nothing African about abusive systems and undemocratic government, - this is the exception and not the norm in Africa’s value system and rich heritage. If Africans “enjoy” abuse as part of their DNA, then there would never have been an anti-colonial/anti-Apartehid struggle.
African Culture, as you know, is not merely culture, but is embodied within it laws and ethical standards. The neighbor, in this case Zimbabwe - has a problem, a problem that has resulted in refuges fleeing into South Africa. African Ubuntu says, If we help our neighbor we will be helping ourselves. The stability in Zimbabwe is also South Africa’s growth and progress. If Zimbabwe burns, South Africa will only get more refugees and eventually burn as well.
While, as for many, including myself, it is difficult to rebuke a Statesman of the calibre of Robert Mugabe given all he has done in his anti-colonial days. Our African Culture demands that we do so, acting independently. We must sir, put South African people beyond individual accomplishment as well as act in a way in which in a New Zimbabwe South Africans can hold their heads up and say: In your moment of darkness we were on the side of justice, democracy and an open society in Zimbabwe. Lets not project the attitude that South Africa does not care about its neighbor or the rest of Africa for that matter, and that South Africa is only interested in its affairs - this is a bad foreign policy and has grave reperccussions.
I am not suggesting military intervention, but a Parliamentary Panel - the least possible effort - that will investigate this situation independently, and not be mouth-fed by the Zimbabwean government (Zanu-PF). This panel can interview Zimbabwean refuges in South Africa, takes notes from independent sources and make suggestions on how best South Africa can play a role in Zimbabwe’s current political meltdown. President Mbeki did a good job with monitoring elections in Zimbabwe in the past, but this is no longer about democracy - one man, one vote, on one day. It is about the fundamental collapse of Zimbabwean individual rights and peace and security in the region.
My suggestion is the cataloging of Human Rights abuses in that country through direct testimony from Zimbabwean refugees as soon as possible; this having the effect of deterrence. In addition, a review of all law that has resulted in sanctions on Zimbabwe. And finally transitional suggestions. This trifold approach will result in qualitative evidence vital in that country’s on going stalemate; such evidence can be forwarded to the United Nations for Zimbabwe to address. South Africa should use established structures and organs of international peace and stability in the manner intended, and with a very solid independent trust - a South African intelligence.
I trust that this letter will be taken for what it is, one son of Africa making a desperate plea for victims of an unjust and unfair government. It is a grave mistake for South Africa to sit and watch, this is clearly no longer an internal problem but a human problem such as was the case with Apartheid. If this is an internal problem, then South Africa would not have an influx of refugees running away from Mugabe to South Africa in the throves? It is time South Africa did its own independent assessment of the situation, and in the name of Mandela’s legacy.
Ken Sibandais a South African (Transkei) born American Constitutional attorney, known affectionately as “Tecumseh,” for his writings and articles. He has written for numerous publications, in the US and South Africa, and including for “The Jerusalem Post,” in Israel.
He has received numerous awards and citations including in 2000 at International House, for “extending International cooperation.”