Former South Afrika President Thabo Mbeki, on September 17, gave a keynote lecture in memory of the former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in Durban City Hall. Mr Mbeki said the Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe did everything in his power to ensure the liberation of the people of his country and he should be honoured for that.
Mr Mbeki who is the Chancellor of the University of South Africa addressed hundreds of ANC members and the public in Durban for the first time in 13 years.
He started his speech by telling the long history of Mr Mugabe and the ANC. He mentioned that the leaders and party members learnt a lot from Mugabe.
“The transition which was handled by president Robert Mugabe and the rest of the Zanu-PF leadership had very important lessons for us, in terms of how we might want to handle our transition,” Mr Mbeki said.
Mbeki revealed that Mugabe’s dream was to see other oppressed African countries free, which is why he supported the ANC in its liberation struggle.
“President Mugabe was a member of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress that ANC was formed in 1957. He was part of its leadership. So I’m saying that this is somebody who demonstrated in practice where his heart and his mind lay in terms of doing everything possible to secure the liberation of the people in Zimbabwe.”
Mugabe passed away in a Singapore hospital on September 06 at the age of 95. His funeral was on held on Sunday at National Sports stadium in the capital Harare. He will be buried at the Heroes acres in a month’s interval. Mbeki also attended the funeral in Harare.
Mr Mbeki also claimed that the British government under Tony Blair planned to intervene militarily in Zimbabwe but abandoned this plan because Mugabe enjoyed support from South African neighbours.
“The UK and the US tried to ensure that President Mugabe does not run as president of Zimbabwe and so they contacted us to make this proposal a way must be found to make sure he doesn’t run,” he said.
Mr Mbeki said they said no because Mugabe played a crucial role in the liberation of South Africa during its apartheid era.
“One of the cadres and comrades that we should always value as one of the combatants for the liberation of South Africa is President Mugabe. And therefore, there was absolutely no way in which if Zimbabwe was faced with challenges, we would turn our backs.
Mbeki said even the late opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai wanted to work with Mugabe. He stated his side of the story on how he handled matters concerning Zimbabwe during his time as president.
Mr Mbeki also told those who attended that not even one Zimbabwean wanted Mugabe to be overthrown from power, but the pressure came from outsiders around 2008.
“I have never met one, single Zimbabwean who said I want Mugabe deposed, not one. Even the MDC did not say help us depose Mugabe.
“They said help us to find one another. But there is one South African journalist who says the people of Zimbabwe had wanted to see Mugabe deposed.”
He also added that Mugabe and the ANC shared a mutual passion and friendship to work together in the best interests of both neighbouring countries.
“In 2000 there was a referendum in Zimbabwe where a constitution was rejected. We were approached by the MDC who said to us ‘can you please speak to President Mugabe’. I remember meeting President Mugabe to make that proposal to him ended up with the global political agreement signed in 2008,” Mbeki explained according to SABC News.