Assessing South Africa's "quiet diplomacy" towards Zimbabwe : strengths and weaknesses.
Mkhize, Mbekezeli Comfort.
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The research project begins with the land reform programme in Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2008. Under colonialism Britain took most arable land from the indigenous Zimbabweans and gave it to the white (minority) settler population. The research attempts to look at how, after independence, President Robert Mugabe has handled the issue of land in an effort to reverse this situation. Some of the consequences of land reform include the collapse of the economy, political instability and social incoherence. Together, these consequences have led to the 'crisis' to describe social and political life in Zimbabwe. Most importantly, the project analyses South Africa's approach in dealing with this 'crisis'. Therefore, South Africa's approach has become the key subject upon which this project will be focused. Initially, the approach that was adopted and implemented by South African government towards Zimbabwe was termed "Quiet Diplomacy". The reasons for this approach are several. Firstly, this approach was one way of respecting the sovereignty of Zimbabwe. In other words, this was an attempt to honour and respect the internal affairs of Zimbabwe. Secondly, Thabo Mbeki's government was of the view that using economic muscle to sanction Zimbabwe would worsen the situation because Zimbabwe is dependent on South Africa in terms of electricity supply and other resources. However, as Quiet Diplomacy appeared to be ineffectual in halting Zimbabwe's slide into further disarray, much criticism has been generated. Critics state that the approach is not working, and it has made the situation worse in Zimbabwe. In addition, the study, therefore, has hypothesised that: "Quiet Diplomacy" is not a viable approach to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis. In making this claim, the study observes both the strengths and weaknesses of "quiet diplomacy". Finally, the study also seeks to make possible options (other than quiet diplomacy) that South African government should have considered. In the end, the study intends to make recommendations such as 'smart' sanctions that could be used to address the situation in Zimbabwe.