Diplomacy lessons for Fikile Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula

Sydney Kawadza Senior
Being a keen follower of South African news, reading newspapers is an occasional dose, some of us can competently comment on the events on the other side of the Limpopo River.

Hence the Sunday Times’ Hogarth brings a different but interesting depiction of what happens in South Africa.

Hogarth has coined a number of monikers such as Commander-In-Thief (Julius Malema), Little Obama (Mmusi Maimane) and many others for the main characters of the country’s politics.

More amusing are his digs at SA’s Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, known to Hogarth as Minister Razzmatazz.

Minister Mbalula earned his nickname from his tweets, some of which, border on gross carelessness and childishness.

As a sports minister, we could dismiss the rants as coming from someone always pumped with the entertainment of the portfolio. But the man has just gone overboard this time. The SA minister has trashed the tenets of diplomacy, leaving it in shreds.

Should we blame this on the kind of leaders coming from the African National Congress Youth League, read, Julius Malema?

Are we seeing Malema’s character in Minister Mbalula?

The Economic Freedom Fighters leader was mentored by Mbalula. Hear! Hear!

Hogarth has followed the twitteratti Mbalula character hitting left, right and centre that sometimes one feels that it’s unwarranted.

However, Minister Mbalula has this time behaved badly! His Tweets are that dangerous and surprising from a national leader. Let alone Cabinet minister.

Is Minister Mbalula still locked in the toyi toyi political matra of his youth leadership days that he decides to tear the diplomacy literature to shreds?

We thought Minister Mbalula has grown with age, becoming mature enough that he is made responsible of the police ministry in a country faced by various challenges. The new portfolio has come with responsibilities, which responsibilities need a mature character with level headedness being a natural requirement.

However, Minister “Razzmataz” seems to have missed this in attacking Zimbabweans based in South Africa.

We are not surprised by the shock express by Ambassador to South Africa Mr Isaac Moyo and, yes, the utterances are baseless.

And, yes indeed, Minister Mbalula’s statements are diplomatically “off-side”.

Mbalula claims Zimbabwean ex-soldiers are responsible for the bank robberies in South Africa.

Minister Mbalula says some Zimbabweans escape their military duties and illegally get into South Africa, where they resort to criminal activities.

It’s quite funny that Zimbabwe has found support from an unlikely source in the Democratic Alliance’s Gauteng leader John Moodey.

The DA wants to report Mbalula to the SA Human Rights Commission for the comments.

It’s true his errant and fascist statements “promote hatred based on the grounds of origin, ethnicity and nationality, and infringe on the dignity of Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa.”

SA-based political and social commentator Udo Froese has been equally scathing.

“It shows utter arrogance and an absence of good guidance as well as a culture of self-centeredness, (and) believing in immature populism.

“Minister Mbalula needs professional guidance. He shouldn’t alienate his Zimbabwean counterparts, as he will need their cooperation sooner or later. Could his anti-Zimbabwe rant not contribute to that so-called xenophobia?”

A law lecturer at the Wits University said Minister Mbalula’s statements are misguided and fascist.

“He is a wanna-be Donald Trump of the region. He knows more about Twitter than he does international diplomacy and hence has a lot to learn.

“That was a careless statement and one that is capable of creating tensions for the Zimbabwean population in South Africa.”

It is unfortunate that Minister Mbalula decided to ignore the contribution by Zimbabwean professionals to South Africa’s economic and social development.

Does the name Peter Moyo ring any bells in Minister Mbalula’s head?

He should check with Old Mutual.

Minister Mbalula, being a former sports minister, should know of a rugby star known as Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira.

We don’t deny that some Zimbabweans are engaged in menial jobs in South Africa and, yes, some misguided elements engage in criminal activities.

However, Minister Mbalula’s statements paint a blanket picture on all Zimbabweans in that country.

Minister Mbalula will never be expected to see any good from former President Thabo Mbeki’s thoughts.

Was it not President Mbeki who lauded Zimbabweans for taking the land issue seriously and making it part of their national consciousness?

Remember what he said about the “Malmesbury Five” from Western Cape?

The five Zimbabwean professionals who turned an abandoned piece of land to productivity? President Mbeki said the Malmesbury farmers’ attitude was commendable and “a good story to tell because it’s Africans . . .”

He was also not surprised that the Malmesbury farmers were Zimbabweans.

The five Zimbabwean academics-turned-farmers are Dr Ignatius Matimati, Dr Batsirai Magunje, Engineers Walter Khumalo, Wellington Paradza and Albert Zinhanga.

That could have slipped Minister Mbalula’s mind, firstly, when he abused his Twitter account, and, secondly, when he reiterated his statements last Tuesday.

The South African government can do a bit in teaching Minister Mbalula some form of diplomacy.

Zimbabweans have diplomatically and quietly engaged their counterparts down south of the Limpopo.

The lessons should start today!

Minister Mbalula, diplomacy is the means by which states throughout the world conduct their affairs in ways to ensure peaceful relations. The minister should take note of the need for conducting peaceful relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa, something both countries enjoy quite well.

Diplomacy, Minister Mbalula, is seized with the promotion of political, economic, cultural or scientific relations between sovereign states.

The two countries share some international commitment to defend human rights.

These human rights, Minister Mbalula, are under threat from your ranting.

Diplomacy has both bilateral and multilateral contexts. It is the bilateral diplomacy — a term used for communication between two states — that has seen the growth of relations enjoyed between our two peoples.This relationship, Minister Mbalula, dates back from the time of the liberation struggle.

Zimbabweans and South Africans fought and died for a common cause.

Minister Mbalula, ask your principal — President Jacob Zuma — of his excursions while fighting alongside Zipra forces in Matabeleland.

Diplomacy has existed since the time when states, empires or other centres of power dealt with each other on an official basis.

It has been used efficiently, especially from the Zimbabwean side, where our diplomats have engaged their counterparts in the face of such attacks from people like Minister Mbalula.

As countries that share an almost similar colonial history albeit different approaches against the enemy, South Africans cannot afford such attacks on Zimbabwe.

The same enemies we fought prior to independence(s) are back to haunt all African countries, whose freedoms are associated with revolutionary movements such as Zanu-PF and the African National Congress.

It’s unfortunate that Minister Mbalula chooses to ignore the turmoil South Africa faces.

Such turmoil comes from similar forces that are responsible for Zimbabwe’s woes.

South Africa can only, but, learn from Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans have used their resilience in a successful fight against the machinations of neo-colonial and imperialists forces.

The South African government should be on alert as they are targeting this flourishing democracy.

Check on who is responsible for the demonstrations in South Africa?

Minister Mbalula should not create a side-show when his country is under attack.

He should not waste his time deriding Zimbabweans in his country because they are people nurtured in a culture of hard work and resilience.

South Africa needs Zimbabwe, firstly, to fight the enemy targeting its governance system and, secondly, to survive the imminent siege they are facing.

Minister Mbalula, your lessons in diplomacy start today and will not end here!

Feedback: sydney.kawadza@zimpapers.co.zw

Features Writer

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