Remarkable People

ID #5249

Desmond Tutu 7 Zimbabwe.

Tutu has criticised human rights abuses in Zimbabwe as well as the government's policy of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe. In 2007 he said the "quiet diplomacy" pursued by the SADC had "not worked at all" and called on Britain and the West to pressure the SADC and South Africa, which chaired talks between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Tutu has often criticized Mugabe and once described him as "a cartoon figure of an archetypical African dictator". In 2008, he called for the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe – by force if necessary. Mugabe, on the other hand, has called Tutu an "angry, evil and embittered little bishop". He said: “We Africans should hang our heads in shame. How can what is happening in Zimbabwe elicit hardly a word of concern let alone condemnation from us leaders of Africa? After the horrible things done to hapless people in Harare, has come the recent crackdown on members of the opposition ... what more has to happen before we who are leaders, religious and political, of our mother Africa are moved to cry out -- Enough is enough?"

He has stated that African leaders should condemn Zimbabwe: "What an awful blot on our copy book. Do we really care about human rights, do we care that people of flesh and blood, fellow Africans, are being treated like rubbish, almost worse than they were ever treated by rabid racists?"

After the Zimbabwean elections in April 2008, he expressed the hope that Mugabe would step down after it was initially reported that Mugabe had lost the elections. Tutu reiterated his support of the democratic process and hoped that Mugabe would adhere to the voice of the people: “That is democracy. Democracy is, you change government when people decide. I mean when your time is over, your time is over. We hope the transition will be a peaceful one, relatively peaceful, and that Mr. Mugabe will step down with dignity, gracefully”.

Tutu called Mugabe "someone we were very proud of", as he "did a fantastic job, and it’s such a great shame, because he had a wonderful legacy. If he had stepped down ten or so years ago he would be held in very, very high regard. And I still want to say we must honour him for the things that he did do, and just say what a shame."

Tutu feared that riots would break out in Zimbabwe if the election results were ignored. He proposed that a peace-keeping force should be sent to ensure stability. “Anything that would save the possibilities of bloodshed, of conflict, I am quite willing to support. The people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough, and we don’t...want any more possibilities of bloodshed. In a fraught situation such as we have had in Zimbabwe, anything that is helping towards a move, a transition, from the repression to the possibilities of democracy and freedom, oh, for goodness sake, please let us accept that”

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Last update: 2014-03-17 02:30
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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