South africa cleric warns of Zimbabwe moment

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A South African Anglican archbishop has warned that the country could soon slide into social, economic and political turmoil, which has choked neighbouring Zimbabwe if urgent steps are not taken to stem the tide.

Anglican’s Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba made the remarks in his Easter message at St George’s Cathedral at the weekend, where he described President Jacob Zuma’s government as a “deeply corrupt regime”.

“Like many, I feel that the dream of South Africa sometimes feels more like a nightmare, a prolonged Passiontide, so to speak. Personal interests, corruption, private gain, entitlement, a vicious contempt for the poor and the common good, a culture of blatant lies and cronyism – and possibly worse – dominate our public landscape … it is as if we are entering the Zimbabwe moment…,” Makgoba said.

“… some among our leaders have become slaves to a new form of colonial oppression. It is a moral and economic oppression that manifests itself in the form of one family’s capture of our country and a president, whose integrity, soul, and heart have been compromised.”

Zuma is in the eye of a storm amid growing calls for his removal on a litany of allegations including corruption and allowing “State capture” by a shadowy family with close links to the country’s ruling party.

Opposition MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu yesterday reaffirmed Makgoba’s observations, and urged South Africa to learn from Zimbabwe’s experience.

“South Africa seems to be rapidly descending into a Zimbabwean-style type of political and economic precipice. We have walked this calamitous road with disastrous consequences. South Africa should learn from our experience,” he said.

“Populism and misguided political intolerance will drive the rainbow nation into a political and economic mess.”

People’s Democratic Party spokesperson, Jacob Mafume said South Africa should make the right choices.

“They have to make choice on whether to follow the populist rhetoric of its leaders, who try to disguise corruption, as one big social reconstruction project, a white versus black dynamic or reject this and come up with better ways and better forms of social and reconstruction mechanisms that do not quickly degenerate into crony capitalism and parasitic relations with state revenues and business,” he said.

Zuma has turned to populist rhetoric associated with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, including possible land-grab Zimbabwe-style in a bid to buy the sympathy of ordinary South Africans.

Zimbabwe’s economic, social and political problems have been traced to Mugabe’s chaotic and often violent land reform policy adopted in 2000, when opposition to his rule grew exponentially.

However, political analyst, Macdonald Lewanika said the situation and dynamics between South Africa and Zimbabwe were different.

“At the moment, allusions to SA going the Zimbabwe route are illustrative and have a lot of fear and propaganda value, but beyond that, I think the stakes for the ANC and Zuma are not, as high as they were for Zanu and Mugabe for them to go full throttle towards sponsoring anarchy in pursuit of self-preservation,” he said.