Mugabe attacks Nelson Mandela


HARARE – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has reopened his feud with South African liberation struggle icon Nelson Mandela, accusing him of going “too far” to please whites.

Mugabe and Mandela have never quite seen eye-to-eye and in a television interview, the 89-year-old Zimbabwean leader trashes the former South African president’s credentials.

Mandela’s reconciliation policies were not holistic, Mugabe said, adding that the 94-year-old was trying to be godly, “too much of a saint”.

“They (whites) will praise you only if you are doing things that please them. Mandela has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities, really in some cases at the expense of (blacks)…,” Mugabe reportedly told talk show host Dali Tambo in an interview.

“That is being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint,” he said.

The interview, filmed for Tambo’s show People of the South, will be aired next Sunday, South Africa’s Sunday Independent newspaper reported.

According to the newspaper, the interview included footage of the Mugabe family and interviews with Mugabe’s wife Grace at a dairy farm.

Mugabe and Mandela’s feud goes way back.

The two publicly clashed in 1998, when Mandela was still South Africa’s leader over how to defend the government of Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following a rebel offensive in that country.

Angered by Mandela’s remarks advising against military support to DRC, Mugabe said countries which want to keep out are free to do so, but should not criticise those favouring military intervention.

During the time Mandela, who was chairman of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), opposed bailing out Kabila through the barrel of the gun, favouring a diplomatic solution to the offensive threatening Kabila’s government.

Media reports in South Africa quoted Mandela’s spokesperson as condemning the claims by Zimbabwe and Angola that their military intervention in DRC had Sadc support.

Last year, Mugabe cunningly attacked Mandela after arch-rival and coalition government partner Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was likened to Mandela by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Mugabe then launched an attack at Gomorefu High School in Manicaland Province while officially launching the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust last year.

“Tine vamwe pakati pedu vari kuzemberana nevarungu. Kana uchizemberana na ava vanhu usingazvione kuti uri kushandiswa uri benzi (Some among us are siding with the whites. If you side with them and fail to realise that you are being used, then you are a fool),” Mugabe said.

“Vamwe vanobva vatonzi (Some are even told) you are a good leader. Being equated to Mandela! Uri kushandiswa kurwisana nevanhu vako (You are being used to fight your people),” Mugabe said during the function.

Mugabe’s remarks cast immediate fears that he was jealous of Mandela, who is a global darling, while the Zimbabwean leader is reviled for his iron-fisted rule and his desperate quest to hang on to power.

Mandela in 2008 described Mugabe’s rule as “tragic failure of leadership”.

Mandela said: “We watch with sadness the continuing tragedy in Darfur. Nearer to home we have seen the outbreak of violence against fellow Africans in our own country and the tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe.” – Tendai Kamhungira

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