Friday, 20 January 2012


By John V Sserwaniko
Journalists have been  thrown out of the lecture ex-South African President Thabo Mbeki is giving  at Makerere University’s Institute of Social Research (MISR). Prof Mahmood Mamdan, whose secretary Doreen, had sent out mails inviting the media suddenly just ordered the press out.
The event began in the morning with Mbeki delivering his key note address on the theme “The Architecture of Post-Cold War Africa: Between Internal Reform & External Intervention.” Mbeki suddenly became uncomfortable seeing the press rush to record his answer to a question put by a white settler/delegate from Zimbabwe.
In his paper, Mbeki was very critical of the west dismissing them as imperialists. He gave the example of NATO aggression in Libya saying it wasn’t about liberating the country from tyrant Muamar Gaddafi.
During the general question and discussion session, the participant from Zimbabwe rebuked Mbeki saying double standards he displayed in relation to Zimbabwe disarmed him of any moral authority to question the west on issues of human rights.
The Zimbabwean also dismissed Mbeki as escapist saying it was wrong to blame only the west while keeping a blind eye on African despots who acted with impunity and oppressed their people. Mbeki then tried to answer the question but in the process found himself revealing a lot of very sensitive information recalling how the west used to pressurize him as South African president on the question of Zimbabwe.
On realizing that the press were fast recording his every statement, he shot: “What is this? Can you first take it [recorder] away because I don’t want this reported,”
Mbeki said to a journalist prompting Mamdan to flush out all the reporters. Mbeki had just revealed that a high ranking US official during George W. Bush’s time approached him when still president and assured him the national unity government in Zimbabwe would not be allowed to work.
Mbeki said the official assured him that Washington wouldn’t allow Morgan Thangrai to partner with Robert Mugabe.  Mbeki also faulted African leaders at AU for doing nothing to physically prevent the NATO invasion of Libya saying the current African political set up was nothing but a very weak movement characterized by opportunism and collaboration.
It was then that his aides prevailed on Mamdan to throw out the media. Later scribes, both local and foreign, were huddled under a tree.  Some of them were heard threatening to revenge on Mbeki in the evening when he is expected to address a public debate in Makerere main hall.
Among others in the hall were Mak VC Baryamureeba, Beti Kamya, Tarsis Kabwegyere, Sarah Bagalariwo and many other Pan Africanists across Africa.

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