Among the failures of SA foreign policy, Zimbabwe stands out as probably the worst. Over two decades, it allowed Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, to dominate the relationship in every respect, severely damaging SA’s national interests and those of the entire Southern African region. Without lifting a finger, SA looked on while Zimbabwe slid from bad to worse, degenerating into a failed authoritarian police state. Over decades, it helped Mugabe cling to power and commit atrocities of the worst kind, revering him as untouchable, treating an abnormal Zimbabwe as normal, even as a friend. For SA, allowing this to happen right next door is downright incomprehensible, a travesty, defying all political logic. In comparative terms, Zimbabwe is a puny state with a national budget about the size of an SA metropole. Its economy is bankrupt and in perpetual chaos, reducing the country to a beggar state in spite of its potential. For SA, priding itself as the dominant African regional power,...

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