Zimbabwe: losing my Ubuntu
In some ways the economic crisis in Zimbabwe resembles that in other countries, except that it has lasted longer and gone further. And there is another dimension to the problem too. In other countries the problem has been greedy bankers and crooked lenders. In Zimbabwe it has been a greedy governrment and power abuse on a grand scale.
The power-sharing deal cobbled together by Thabo Mbeki in some ways represents ANC thinking over the last couple of decades. It is based on the philosophy of Ubuntu.
And let us not underestimate the power of Ubuntu.
It enabled South Africa to make the transition to democracy with relatively little bloodshed. Ubuntu eventually prevailed over violence in constitutional negotiations. It was the spirit of inclusion. It enabled the ANC, both in the period leading up to the first democratic election and as the government immediately after the elections, to treat the differences of opinion and conflict as family squabbles, to be dealt with by an approach of inclusion, and making everybody happy. So the leader of the old enemy, F.W. de Klerk of the National Party, was included in a government of national unity as deputy president. M.G. Buthelezi of the Inkatha Freedom Party was included in the cabinet.
John Carlin describes how Terror Lekota invited a member of the extreme white right to his birthday party:
I like this story because it captures the spirit of that epic reconciliation that the ANC masterminded out of the epic injustice its people had endured for so long. Terror, whose inauguration as premier (another heart-lifting ceremony of reconciliation) I attended, always struck me in those days as a rough-diamond version of Mandela; all the finer instincts and values, with somewhat less of the polish.
But it seems that the ANC is losing its Ubuntu. Terror Lekota has now announced that he is serving divorce papers on his former comrades in the ANC, and Thabo Mbeki’s solution to Zimbabwe’s problems is unravelling fast.
South Africa was not able to find a solutuion to its problems until the intransigent P.W. Botha departed from the centre stage. And perhaps Zimbabwe’s problems will not be solved until Robert Mugabe makes a similar departure for the political wilderness, and perhaps the best contribution South Africa could make is to buy him P.W.’s old home in the Wilderness, and encourage him to go and live there.