The former statesman says only Zimbabweans can tell President Robert Mugabe to step down from office.
Former President Thabo Mbeki says political leaders who have “overstayed their welcome” must be shown the door by their own people.
Speaking on Saturday during a discussion with young people involved in his foundation in Johannesburg, Mbeki said he agreed that “political leaders should not stay in positions forever”, News24 reported.
According to the report, the former statesman referenced Zimbabwe as an example in the discussion, saying only the country’s citizens can make sure that President Robert Mugabe – who’s been in power since 1987 – steps down, not external forces.
“I would fight with any South African who stands up to say: ‘I, as a South African, say Robert Mugabe must go’,” Mbeki said. “I say it is none of your business. It is the business of the people of Zimbabwe…”
“If the people of Zimbabwe think that president Mugabe has overstayed his welcome, let them say…president, please go away.”
He suggested that the larger context of decolonization also needed to be understood in these kind of scenarios.
“The colonial system was exactly about taking away the possibility for us to determine our own [destiny].
“Now I sit here as a South African and me, I’m going to say to the Zimbabweans: ‘You shut up. I’m going to decide for you who your leader is’ … It is wrong,” Mbeki said.