Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tutu accuses South Africa over Mugabe.

I don't think there's anything Archbishop Tutu is saying that I have not been saying for a long time. But, for someone who took part in the epic struggle against Apartheid, it must be especially galling to watch the way South Africa is impeding any attempt to help the people of Zimbabwe.

Tutu has now told Radio 4 that he feels South Africa has lost the moral high ground by failing to stand up to Mugabe.

He said: "How much more suffering is going to make us say 'No we have given Mr Mugabe enough time?'"

He added: "I want to say first of all that I have been very deeply disappointed, saddened by the position that South Africa has taken at the United Nations Security Council in being an obstacle to the security council dealing with that matter.

"And I have to say that I am deeply, deeply distressed that we should be found not on the side of the ones who are suffering.

"I certainly am ashamed of what they've done in the United Nations.

"For the world to say no, we are waiting for South Africa's membership of the Security Council to lapse and then we can take action."

That, the Archbishop, said, was an "awful indictment" to a country that had a "proud record of a struggle against a vicious system".

He said: "We should have been the ones who for a very long time occupied the moral high ground.

"I'm afraid we have betrayed our legacy."

I understand that different country's have a different take on history, and that Britain's colonial past is a prism through which both Zimbabwe and South Africa view recent events and, to this end, I have understood Brown's reluctance to get too involved as our intervention only ever seems to play into Mugabe's hands and allows him to say that all of Zimbabwe's problems are caused by outside meddling.

But the blatant stealing of the last election and the violence which accompanied it - coupled with the fact that the country is now overrun with a cholera epidemic - must surely represent some kind of line in the sand where even South Africa say, "Enough is enough".

However, even that turns out not to be the case.

I have no idea what Mugabe would have to do for South Africa to finally wash their hands of him. And I do understand how, for people like Tutu and Mandela, the stance currently taken by their country must be simply shameful to them.

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