Zimbabwe, the running sore that’s pretty much been left alone to fester for almost two decades, is once again threatening to become a tinderbox that could explode, shattering the relative calm in the region.

SA, the big brother in the south, already home to thousands of Zimbabwe’s huddled masses fleeing the accursed generosity of its leaders, is being implored to intervene. It should stay its hand.

Zimbabwe, we often forget, is not SA’s 10th province. Nor are we its nanny. It is an autonomous state; its people should be free to chart their own course. Not that we should be indifferent. As neighbours, we cannot but be concerned because any instability in Zimbabwe has social and political consequences for SA, with many fleeing either political persecution or, as economic migrants, being driven out by the dire state of affairs in their country. Pretoria’s intervention thus far has worsened the situation. Our leaders seem incapable of intervening on the side of those who are being persecuted. They charge in at the slightest sign of conflict to save the skins of their fellow leaders. Also, intervention tends to create a convenient scapegoat in the event of things going wrong. The locals have somebody, the odious foreigner, to blame for their misfortune. They should be allowed to be the authors of their own fate. SA needs a new way of dealing with Zimbabwe. What has gone before has ...

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