FORMER British Prime Minister Tony Blair leaned on South Africa to back a plot for a military invasion of Zimbabwe and topple President Mugabe from power, former President Thabo Mbeki has revealed. Mr Mbeki made the revelations on a televised programme on Aljazeera TV on Saturday, saying the British wanted to replace President Mugabe with MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
The British Government has been sponsoring the MDC-T since its formation in 1999 to effect regime change in Zimbabwe, but the plan has come to grief.
Speaking on Talk to Aljazeera, the former South African President said: “There is a retired chief of the British Armed Forces who said he had to withstand pressure from then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair who was saying to the chief of the British Armed Forces ‘you must work out a military plan so that we can physically remove Robert Mugabe’.
“We knew that because we had come under the same pressure that we needed to cooperate in some scheme. It was a regime change scheme, even to the point of using military force and we were saying no.”
Mr Mbeki, who facilitated inter-party talks that led to the formation of the now defunct inclusive Government made up of Zanu-PF and the MDC formations in 2008, took a swipe at the West for interfering in the domestic affairs of sovereign nations, particularly in Africa and the Middle East in a bid to install puppet regimes.
“You’re coming from London, I don’t like President Mugabe for whatever reason, people in London don’t like him…you are going to remove him, it means you are going to put somebody else in his place. Why does it become a British responsibility to decide who leads the people of Zimbabwe?” he said.
“We were saying no. Let Zimbabweans sit down. Let them agree what they do with their country. Our task is to make sure we stay with them. We work with them.
“So, the GPA they signed in 2008 was negotiated by the Zimbabweans. We facilitated. We chaired the meeting and so on, but it was them who negotiated the agreement.”
Mr Mbeki said the Syrian crisis and other similar global conflicts could only be resolved through negotiated settlements as opposed to the West’s regime change template.
He said the West believes that the Syrian crisis could only be resolved by removing the Government of President Bashar Assad and warned such an approach was bound to fail.
“Let the Syrians get together,” said Mr Mbeki. “We will assist them to get to a solution which sorts out the Syrian thing, no different to a position we took with regards to Zimbabwe. Let Zimbabweans sort out their problem. Let Syrians do the same.”
Political analyst and Midlands State University lecturer Mr Christopher Gwatidzo yesterday said Mr Mbeki must be applauded by all Zimbabweans for his Pan Africanist values and urged the country to remain vigilant as the West still harbours intentions to effect illegal regime change.
“We must applaud the stance taken by President Mbeki,” he said. “It shows his commitment to Pan Africanism. If he was some other weak African president who is not principled, he would not have behaved like that.
“He is an example of a Pan Africanist. We must also awaken to reality, the Western world still harbours regime change intentions and as we engage them through our foreign policy or through tourism or any other forum, we must always doubt their sincerity. We must not trust them. When on the table with them, we must use a long fork because anything is possible with them.”
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr Charity Manyeruke said Mr Mbeki’s stance must be a lesson to other African leaders within and outside the region.
“We commend what President Mbeki has done,” she said. “That is what we expect presidents from countries like Botswana to do. That is what we expect even South African President Jacob Zuma to do. We want to know what has been happening all along behind the closed doors.
“Behind the closed doors are big regime change agendas.
“We are Africans and even if you become friends with the British Prime Minister you will never become a British. We appreciate a lot of what Mr Mbeki has done.”
Dr Manyeruke said the West wanted to re-colonise Africa by installing puppet governments as evidenced by its funding of non-governmental organisations and some political parties in the country.