Soccer Is Key to Get S. Africa to Play Ball on Zimbabwe

Use 2010 World Cup to pressure Mbeki: writer

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 24, 2008 8:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – The last few weeks have further exposed Robert Mugabe as a tyrant—and Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president, as a "vacillating, dithering, morally compromised figure," writes Peter Godwin. In an op-ed for the New York Times, the Zimbabwe-born author says that the West must force Mbeki to act by playing its trump card: threaten to take away the World Cup, which South Africa hosts in just two years.

While the West must move to delegitimize the Zimbabwean regime and support Morgan Tsvangirai, it must also lean on its southern neighbor, which provides a "protective cloak" for Mugabe's crimes. Zimbabwe must become for the South African World Cup "what Tibet has been to the Beijing Olympics—the pungent albatross that spoils every press conference and mars every presentation with its insistent odor."

President Robert Mugabe, right, welcomes South African President Thabo Mbeki, left, of South Africa at Harare International Airport, Saturday, April, 12, 2008.   (AP Photo)
Zimbabweans demonstrate outside the Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday April 16, 2008.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
South Africa's 2010 Local Organising Committee Chief Executive Officer, Danny Jordan speaks during a media briefing at the South Africa Football Association house in Soweto, Wednesday June 11, 2008.   (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Construction continues as FIFA 2010 World Cup delegates conduct their inspection tour of the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, Tuesday Feb. 19, 2007.   (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Construction takes place at the FIFA headquarters at the FNB stadium on the outskirts of Soweto in Johannesburg in this Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2006 file photo.   (AP Photo/Mujahid Safodien)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, left, Deputy President Jocyce Mujuru, center, and South African Thabo Mbeki at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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