African American civil
rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson has called on all former anti-apartheid
forces to assist the people of Zimbabwe find a way out of their current
political crisis. Jackson, who is president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, also
urged President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to
demonstrate their commitment to peace through negotiation. He has even offer
himself, if need be, to help bring about what he called the restoration of
growth in Zimbabwe.
Jackson told VOA he
is aggrieved by the suffering of the Zimbabwean people.
are pained, given the tremendous role that Zimbabwe played in liberating
southern Africa from colonial rule. Now we must work diligently, together with
President Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai to get Zimbabwe back into a reconstruction
mode again," he said.
called on all anti-apartheid forces to assist the people of Zimbabwe
find a way out of their current political crisis.
"If this were a white regime
in Zimbabwe seen as holding up an election, the world would cry out to ask for
fairness and open, free fair election without violence so we can again begin to
get resources back into Zimbabwe to reduce inflation, to revive the economy.
Zimbabweans need food and health and housing and capacity to restart their
economy," Jackson said.
He said statements last week
by South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) that Zimbabweans be
given the chance to resolve their own political crisis is contrary to what the
ANC asked the world for when it was fighting to end white minority rule.
"That is inconsistent with
what ANC asked of the world when they under apartheid. ANC asked the world to
help, and the U.S. Congress passed action against apartheid in South Africa. We
had demonstrations around the world against apartheid South Africa. So there
are some crises that cannot be left to isolation into their own device. South
Africa of course shares border with Zimbabwe, and there are some diplomatic
sensitivities, but I hope ANC would see itself playing a more aggressive role
in bringing about a plan to reconciliation and growth in Zimbabwe," he said.
Jackson called on leaders of
the Southern African Development Community (SADC), who are holding an emergency
meeting Wednesday in the Swaziland capital Mbabane, to make a choice against
violence and tyranny.
"I recommend to reach out to
President Mugabe and the opposition leader and urge that we mobilize other
leaders of substance who care to try to do our very best to get them on the
track of reconciliation and security and economic growth," Jackson said.
Some Africans have accused
the West of duplicity when it comes to promoting democracy in Africa. They said
some Western countries did not speak out openly about elections in some African
countries which the opposition there had characterized as fraudulent.
Jackson agreed that some
Western voices have not been loud enough about elections in other countries
where the opposition there had complained about irregularities. But he said
Africans should not look for a reason not to work for peace.
"We should not
stand idly by and by some romantic notion of friendship be too weak to take a
stand for openness, fairness and democracy for all of the people. If the AU
(African Union) cannot resolve this crisis, it weakens itself by its inaction.
If it cannot address in a meaningful way Zimbabwe, it cannot address in a
meaningful way the Congo, Kenya, or Liberia, or Ethiopia, or any place else on
the continent," Jackson said.
He added his voice to the
international cry that any election without the participation of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change cannot be meaningful.
Jackson said it
is time for leaders to step forward to help build a bridge over Zimbabwe's
troubled waters. He said if need be, he's willing to make himself available to
help bring about what he called the restoration of growth in Zimbabwe.
"We must attempt to get some
leaders who will take the risk and the burden of trying to build a bridge. And
I'm certainly willing to reach out to other leaders and be available myself to
help do what must done to help bring about the restoration of growth in
Zimbabwe. It's our moral obligation. We did it for the freedom of South Africa
and we cannot stop now in this quest for people to live freely and without fear
and with hope," Jackson said.