Harare – Former president Thabo Mbeki’s defence in online newsletters of his controversial “quiet diplomacy” towards Zimbabwe, ahead of and during the 2008 elections, has sharply divided Zimbabweans.
Following weeks of violence and a run-off election boycotted by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Mbeki persuaded President Robert Mugabe to form a power-sharing government with the Movement for Democratic Change.
The coalition lasted from 2009 until 2013, when Mugabe once again won elections.
Here is a selection of notable quotes from Zimbabweans reacting to Mbeki’s newsletters:
Deputy editor of Newsday Nqaba Matshazi on Twitter: “Mbeki is hated and loved in equal measure in Zim, the letter just worked to polarise us more.”
@zanu_pf on Twitter (not acknowledged as the ruling party’s official account, but has a huge following in Zimbabwe): “We will never forget the great love and loyalty president Mbeki has for us. If it were not for him, Zimbabwe would be very different.”
Obert Gutu, MDC spokesperson, on Twitter: “Zimbabwe is in this current mess, thanks to Thabo Mbeki’s so-called ‘quiet diplomacy’.”
Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo on Twitter: “Mbeki revelations on UK/US plot to invade Zim at the behest of Bush/Blair toilets explain source of evil sanctions!”
Columnist Conway Tutani, writing in the private Newsday: “Mbeki showed that he had confirmation bias. Simply put, it’s cherrypicking evidence that seems to support your favoured hypothesis – that of regime change; and ignoring that which does not support it – that of 200 people killed in cold blood.”
Reader Nkunzemnyama, posting on the state-controlled Chronicle website: “Since Mbeki started this weekly letter of his,,,,,,,,he has been lying, lying and lying. He should NEVER be taken seriously.”
Reader Muturikwa we Gweru, posting on the Chronicle: “I will take him very seriously because he has not been lying.”
Gwinyai Taruvinga posted on Twitter: “Don’t think Mbeki knows or understands what he did to Zimbabwe.”