Dick of the Year – Thabo Mbeki
This is a nomination for Bright Green’s Dick of the Year 2011 award from Tim Flatman. To submit your own nomination email 200 (or so) words to editors (at) brightgreenscotland (dot) org.
My first thought on being asked to nominate a candidate for dick of the year – how about the guy who, in 2011 alone, reneged on his promise to grant self-determination to a community of 150,000 people and instead sent an army in to ethnically cleanse them, displacing them to an area where they would be without shelter, food, or medicine in the rainy season. Then blocked the border and prevented supplies from reaching them in the hope most would starve or die from exposure.
That’s what President Bashir did in Abyei. Then he bombed his own people, internally displacing another 300,000 in Nuba Mountains, followed suit in the Blue Nile region and bombed a refugee camp over the border in South Sudan. All while escalating attacks on civilians in Darfur and using rape as a weapon to shame and silence protestors in Khartoum.
In 2011, Bashir made Mubarak and Gaddafi look like inexperienced amateurs at internal repression. But attempted genocide probably puts him outside the upper limit of the definition of “dick”. So how about the guy who was tasked with brokering a peaceful solution to the invasion and occupation of Abyei, but who is believed to be so close to the Khartoum regime (detractors point to his brother’s business interests with Khartoum) he was called an “Arab” to his face when community leadership finally got a chance to meet directly with him. He has consistently put forward “options” for resolving the status of Abyei which favour the aggressors and the interim agreement he mediated has not been implemented but simply used by Khartoum to create additional barriers to implementation of the previous agreements they signed. Even if his actions were not malevolent, he has clearly failed.
Thabo Mbeki’s removal as Head of the African Union High Implementation Panel was the third headline demand at the meeting of Ngok Dinka chiefs, community leaders, women, youth, intellectuals and community members 16-17 November 2011. They resolved to: “Call upon the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to immediately discontinue the role played by Mr Thabo Mbeki as mediator in Abyei peace negotiations. We are convinced he is not impartial and suffers from conflict of interest.”
There is a real feeling amongst the displaced people of Abyei that Mbeki is a figurehead for a self-sustaining peace industry: a rotating platform of discredited former leaders, INGOs, chancers and hangers-on who maintain an international profile and sense of self-worth negotiating meaningless agreements which will never be implemented while staying at expensive hotels for months on end, sipping Johnny Walker and posing for photos with visiting UN members trying to justify their peace credentials to a home audience. Not responsible for a genocide, but certainly living a very comfortable life failing to do anything about it and making the prospects of resolution worse.