South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party has hit back at criticism from President Robert Mugabe that it has failed to provide leadership in sub- Saharan Africa in the continent’s quest to address the skewed ownership of resources still in the hands of whites at the expense of the majority black populace.
The ANC’s secretary general, Gwede Manthashe, told VOA Studio 7 that Pretoria will not “drive whites into the sea” and duplicate Zimbabwe’s controversial black empowerment programme.
Mantashe was responding to Mr. Mugabe’s remarks in China on Tuesday that South Africa has failed to provide leadership in Africa’s industrialization process by failing to redistribute the country's national resources he says remain in the hands of the minority whites.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Mr. Mugabe as telling African diplomats in China, where he is on a five day visit, that “other countries on the continent would be patient with South Africa to address the skewed ownership of resources for the whole continent to benefit.”
Mr. Mugabe’s policy of seizing most of Zimbabwe's white-owned farms and his controversial indigenisation policy to take a 51 percent stake in white businesses is widely seen as having caused the country's economic collapse from 2000-2009. But Mr Mugabe blames the economic problems on Western santions.
This is not the first time that Mr. Mugabe has criticised the South African government for allegedly failing to empower the majority black citizens in that country. The criticism dates back to the time the first black president, the late Nelson Mandela was in charge.
Last year, Mr Mugabe said Mr Mandela was not hard enough on the whites. "Mandela has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities, really in some cases at the expense of (blacks), "
He added, "That's being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint."
Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj refused to comment on Mr. Mugabe’s remarks saying he needs to first a transcript of the remarks.
But Manthashe said the ruling ANC government has its own program for empowering ordinary South Africans, adding they will not take a leaf from Mr. Mugabe’s book regarding re-distributing national resources.
Independent political analyst Dr. Blessing Vava said the remarks by Mr. Mugabe may cause friction between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe on Wednesday left Beijing for Xianxi province where he met with the province’s governor, Lou Quinjian.
The Zimbabwean president is in China with the first family and several cabinet ministers on a five-day state visit seeking resources to revive the country’s ailing economy.