JOHANNESBURG // Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu has accused South Africa of betraying its legacy of struggling against apartheid by failing to take strong action against the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. Mr Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed on Sept 15 to form a unity government. But that agreement has unravelled due to a fight over control of important ministries. Mr Mugabe, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, has come under increasing pressure to step down from Western countries, who say he has reneged on the deal in a bid to hold on to power.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Mr Tutu said that military force against Mr Mugabe's government should not be ruled out. "How much more suffering is going to make us say 'No we have given Mr Mugabe enough time?'," Mr Tutu said. While regional countries Botswana and Zambia have taken a tough line against Mr Mugabe, most African leaders, including influential neighbour South Africa, chair of regional grouping of nations SADC and a UN Security Council member, have stopped short of calling on him to quit.
South Africa had strong historic links with Mr Mugabe, who provided support during the struggle against apartheid. South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma called for a quick end to Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. "The New Year must bring a speedy resolution to this utterly untenable situation," said Mr Zuma in a Christmas message. Zimbabweans were hoping a new leadership would rescue the economy. Instead Zimbabwe has sunk deeper into crisis as the stalemate drags on.
Hyper-inflation means prices double every day, a cholera epidemic has killed more than 1,100 people and the opposition has accused the ruling party of abducting its supporters, a charge it denies. Mr Tutu also criticised South Africa for not taking tougher stands at the United Nations against countries with a record of human rights abuses. "And I have to say that I am deeply, deeply distressed that we should be found not on the side of the ones who are suffering," he said.
"I certainly am ashamed of what they've done in the United Nations." *Reuters