News / Africa

S. African, Zimbabwe Leaders Take Different Path

South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela waves as he arrives to attend the 2010 World Cup football final Netherlands vs. Spain on July 11, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, suburban Johannesburg.
South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela waves as he arrives to attend the 2010 World Cup football final Netherlands vs. Spain on July 11, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, suburban Johannesburg.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is one of the world leaders expected to attend the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela. The two men were both once hailed as liberation heroes, but their paths diverged.

The late South African president served one term and retired, while his Zimbabwean counterpart has remained in office for more than 33 years.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare, Aug. 12, 2013.Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare, Aug. 12, 2013.
x
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare, Aug. 12, 2013.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare, Aug. 12, 2013.
Last week, Mugabe took almost 48 hours to comment on the death of Mandela, who succumbed to a recurring lung infection. Since then it has been business as usual for Mugabe.  

On Sunday, he addressed the funeral of a senior army official for about an hour and never mentioned Mandela’s death. Nor did he observe a moment of silence in honor of the late great leader in a ceremony that was broadcast live on all state-owned radio and tv stations.

Mandela once famously said of his Zimbabwean counterpart, "He was the star, and then the sun came out.”

He summed up feelings about Mugabe in a meeting with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. He said, “Before I was released from prison, he was the most popular African leader in this area, but when I was released, the media said this is the end of Mugabe from the point of view of popularity.  In fact, he himself did not want me to come out of jail,” said Mandela.

Independent political analyst Ibbo Mandaza explained why it appears Mugabe and Mandela did not like each other.

"People like Mugabe regard South Africa as a later comer in the process toward independence. Whereas South Africa has implicitly seen itself as the big brother in the region. So that tension has always been there. Not only in respect of Mandela, but also in respect of Mbeki and Zuma," said Mandaza.

Thabo Mbeki took over as South Africa’s president, before passing the baton to current president Jacob Zuma. As the curtain comes down on the legacy of South Africa’s first black president, former SADC secretary general Simba Makoni said there can be no comparison with Zimbabwe’s first black president.   

Makoni is a former minister in Mugabe’s government. He was an independent candidate for Zimbabwe president in 2008 and is now in opposition politics in Zimbabwe.

“The comparison is inappropriate. I do not know that President Mugabe has emancipated Zimbabwean people," said Makoni. "We know that Zimbabweans are now poorer than they were in 1980. There are so many things that President Mugabe has done. I think we will be doing a disservice to President Mandela to try and do a comparison. It is the wrong comparison. President Mandela demonstrated to us and to the whole world that you do not have to be in high public office to serve your people. ”

That was a direct reference to Mugabe's statement it was “the Mandela way” of serving one term and quit. The 89-year-old Zimbabwean leader has not yet announced when he will step down.  

The late Nobel prize-winner visited Zimbabwe once during his term in office, and the main street to Zimbabwe’s parliament is named Nelson Mandela Avenue. That is one of the way Zimbabweans will remember him, and another is by South African currency that features Mandela's face and is legal tender in Zimbabwe.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs