Daily Trust erred: is Thabo ‘Idi Amin’ Mbeki a worthy winner of African of the year award?
By Getahune Bekele
Before being ousted in bloodless coup for trying his hand on despotism by remaining in office beyond the stipulated two terms, in 2009 Mbeki watched from the comfort of his union buildings balcony, South Africans unleashing a brutal xenophobic attack on defenseless refugees.
Ernesto, the Mozambican immigrant was set alight by blood trusty Alexandra crowd and 60 others were hacked to death.
The world watched in disbelief looters emptying foreign owned small businesses and razing them to the ground with smoldering hate and unexplained vengeance.
Mbeki’s silence and deliberately mistimed intervention further emboldened the marauding murderers and made them feel that they were at liberty to kill any non South African they found lingering in their townships.
He was declared a worthy steward of the nation for arrogantly refusing to compensate refugees who were made penniless by the attack. And more disturbingly, despite overwhelming evidence including the availability of video footages, the Mbeki government embarrassingly failed to secure a single conviction for the senseless loss of life and for the distraction of foreign owned property.
To this day, life of a foreigner remains worthless in South Africa unless the victim is a high profile individual.
That was Mbeki’s legacy.
Although his “no compensation” utterance with the fervor of extreme hate earned him a nick name “the walking Idi Amin”, the obstinate Mbeki managed to walk away from the crime scene almost unscathed.
Even on international stage, Mbeki’s legacy doesn’t stretch beyond the creation of the newly crafted begging bowl known as NEPAD, which revolutionized the begging skills of Africa’s murderous tyrants whom he befriended, some, till death took them away from him.
Last September, he was filmed openly wailing for a brutal warlord who mercilessly killed thousands and looted the impoverished Ethiopia to her bones, Meles Zenawi.
At the funeral, instead of telling the internally colonized Ethiopians to free their neck from the yoke of the terrible exploitation by the Agame junta, Mbeki lionized the dead tyrant describing the voracious devil incarcerate as visionary and selfless. He called a collage drop out moron a great intellectual.
It is a well known fact that in 2005, when the late Zenawi lost elections and faced with public revolt, it was Mbeki who offered him sanctuary at the exclusive Hamanskraal resort near Pretoria, from where the tyrant directed operations to annihilate his opponents.
Thabo Mbeki started his political career as a fire brand revolutionary in the mould of the young Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and millions of black Africans across the continent expected him to remain revolutionary.
However, after walking away from the ANC leadership post where he reverently worked to be feared than loved, muttering the usual “prophet in his country” rhetoric, on the international stage, he appeared somewhat jittery and cowardly, obsequiously agreeing to everything westerners put to him.
His mediation effort in oil and border dispute of the two Sudanese has been a work in progress rather than a done deal. Hence the rash to award him for the unfinished job has raised lots of questions.
Africans still want the coveted award to go to ordinary Africans who does extraordinary things for the mother continent.