Posted on November 18, 2005

South Africa, Zimbabwe Strengthen Ties

Clare Nullis, AP, Nov. 17

Cape Town, South Africa — South Africa and Zimbabwe signed an agreement to strengthen defence and intelligence ties at a ceremony Thursday emphasizing the solidarity between the two neighbours in the face of growing international condemnation of Zimbabwe.

South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils praised Zimbabwe’s “advances and successes” in the 25 years since its independence from Britain. He said the two countries shared a “common world view” and would “march forward shoulder to shoulder.”

The comments were in stark contrast to the criticism heaped on Zimbabwe by most Western governments, which accuse Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of bringing his country to the brink of economic and social collapse and trampling on human rights.

In brief remarks at the signing ceremony, Zimbabwe’s Minister for National Security Dydimus Matasa said the greatest threat to the southern African region’s security came from outside “influences whose aim is to effect regime change especially with regard to countries led by former liberation movements.”

Zimbabwe has repeatedly accused its Western critics, the United State and Britain in particular, of plotting against Mr. Mugabe’s regime.

Mr. Mugabe has found allies among movements in the region like South Africa’s ruling African National Congress that fought colonialism and white rule. Mr. Mugabe supported the ANC in the fight against apartheid.

Mr. Kasrils said Thursday that South African now enjoyed multi-racial democracy thanks to the “heroic people of Zimbabwe.”

“This will never ever be forgotten by the people of South Africa,” he said.