I fully expected South Africa to give Zimbabwe the loan it is asking for, so the news that the South African cabinet agrees with the loan "in principle" is not really news, as far as I am concerned. Earlier I wrote about my hopes that South Africa would use this opportunity in ensure that Zimbabwe made progress in the area of human rights. These hopes were dashed when I read this News24 article:
Government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe said on Wednesday afternoon that there would be no conditions imposed on the loan although it was expected that the "difficulties" that Zimbabwe was facing would not recur.
He said South Africa did not behave like "big brother" when it came to other states.
Young journalists have come on to the scene who do not fully grasp the complex issues South Africa or the world is dealing with. Secondly, we are worried about the tendency in the media to deal with complex matters in a sensational manner, which reduces matters of diplomacy, multilateral and bilateral relations, and the sensitivities that arise in that regard to black and white contrasts. Their approach is that you either do this or the other, and there is no grey in between. Therefore you have the kind of reductionism, for instance, that says if you do not stand on the rooftops and condemn Mugabe, you are not helping to resolve the problems in Zimbabwe. However, the reality is that helping to resolve those sorts of problems require multifaceted interventions; sometimes open, and sometimes in private discussions and meetings. It will include attempts to gently influence people to approach things differently, and incentives meant to encourage people to adopt a particular course of action. When you are dealing with an issue such as Zimbabwe, you cannot reduce an intervention to whether you call a press conference and announce that you are condemning that government and the president of Zimbabwe.