Wednesday, September 25, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Zimbabwe: Mbeki anger over UNISA lecture 'falsehoods'
30/08/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

COMMENT The origingal 'Newsday' article Mbeki speaks on Zim polls, ‘chaotic’ land reform
August 28, 2013
is found here. The full text of the Thabo Mbeki speech is found here. The Newsday editor has now been suspended, see here: AMH suspends editor over Mbeki, Tsvangirai stories. - MrK

FORMER South African President Thabo Mbeki has angrily rejected a newspaper report claiming that he criticised Zimbabwe’s land reforms and accused President Robert Mugabe of “setting a bad example”.

Mbeki, speaking through a spokesman on Friday, said the report in Zimbabwe’s NewsDay newspaper a day earlier was “nothing but a mischievous cut and paste job of quotations intended to communicate falsehoods to achieve particular political outcomes ”.

He accused the paper of “twisting and manipulating the truth” my misrepresenting his comments made during a lecture at UNISA on August 23, a day after the former President had attended Mugabe’s inauguration ceremony in Harare.

On Thursday, NewsDay published comments attributed to Mbeki and later picked up by other media organisations.

The newspaper said “Mbeki also took a swipe at Mugabe’s chaotic land reform programme, saying the Zanu PF leader had ‘set a bad example which we don’t want any country in Africa to follow’.”

The paper quoted Mbeki as saying: “The way the land reform was done offended other players in the world. I told them (Mugabe and Zanu PF), they could not listen; they did what they wanted with their own country.

“They set a bad example which we don’t want any country in Africa to follow. So they must pay a price. I think this is the reason why, apart from diamonds, there is too much attention on Zimbabwe.”

But an audio of Mbeki’s address, released by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation on Friday, showed the former President had been misquoted.

What Mbeki actually said [SEE TRANCRIPT] was: “Many years ago and as part of the leadership in this region, we engaged the Zimbabwean leadership – President Mugabe and others – in a very sustained process to discourage them from the manner in which they were handling the issue of land reform.

“We were saying to them, ‘Yes indeed we agree, the land reform is necessary, but the way in which you are handling it is wrong.’ We tried very hard, ‘No, no you see all of these things about the occupation of the farms by the war veterans, this and that and the other, all of this is wrong’, that’s what we were saying. But fortunately the Zimbabweans didn’t listen to us, they went ahead.

“The consequence of it is that, I have looked at at least four books that have been written about the land reform in Zimbabwe, all of which say in fact the process of land reform in Zimbabwe has given land to at least 300-400,000 new land owners, the peasants of Zimbabwe at last own the land. The programme succeeded and has this direct benefit on these huge numbers of Zimbabweans...

“But I think the reason there has been this kind of focus on Zimbabwe is that for many years now, the political leadership in Zimbabwe have been communicating a message which many among the powerful players in the world find unacceptable.

“I was saying earlier that we opposed, we tried to discourage Zimbabweans from taking the particular steps they took with regard to land reform, acknowledging that it was indeed necessary to have land reform, and I was saying they ignored us. It is, I think, exactly the manner in which they came at that question of land reform that offended other forces in the world who said, ‘This is wrong, we don’t like it’.

“And unlike us who said, ‘Well, they are not listening. They have done what they want to do about their country, we have to accept that’, these others said, ‘They have set a bad example which we don’t want anybody else in Africa and the rest of the world to follow, so they must pay a price for setting a bad example.’ Bad example, bad in the instance of the interests of these other people, not bad in terms of the interests of the people of Zimbabwe.”

The statement by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation added: “With regard to Zimbabwe’s land reform process, former President Mbeki said that though SADC agreed with the Zimbabwean government about the imperative for land reform, it did not agree with the manner in which the process was carried out. He added that this disagreement notwithstanding, the land reform process in Zimbabwe has proved successful.

“The fact that SADC, of which South Africa is a member, expressed a contrary opinion to the government of Zimbabwe at the time must surely have come as a shocking surprise to NewsDay, but shocking as this revelation might be to NewsDay, it is no justification to twist and manipulate the truth.”

The Foundation later circulated, “in the interest of truthful reporting based on sound journalistic ethics”, a transcript of the relevant part of Mbeki’s address and a full hour-long audio of his speech.

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