Thursday, November 27, 2014

Revoke President Obama's Nobel Prize?

The recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to 17 year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai have stirred grumbles in several quarters, with many claiming that she was gifted the “holy grail” simply because she was shot by the Taliban.

“Tell me, would you have known Malala if she was shot by a United States drone,” posed Mohammed Wehliye, a Gulf-based Kenyan banking executive. “Do you know who Nabila Rehman is? Her family and folks were killed by an American drone and despite raising her voice, the Western media and governments ignored her”.

The awarding of Malala, whose case is an example of thousands of others in Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza, comes at time when there have been calls to the Norwegian Nobel Committee to strip US President Barack Obama of the Nobel Prize he won in 2008 given the bloody wars that he is currently spearheading across the globe.

In fact, many have argued, the committee went against the will of the award founder Alfred Nobel who categorically declared that the prize should be granted to “someone who has made very outstanding achievements for the promotion of world peace in the previous year”.

Barack Obama was barely in office for eight months and the only global piece he had promoted remained in a mirage coloured in poetic rhetoric, epitomized by a speech he delivered in Cairo themed on improving West-Arab World relations.

But the reality of this lie would be manifested a few years later after the newly hailed “angel of peace” spearheaded wars that ended bombing six Arab nations, killing and maiming tens of thousands of civilians the process.

The seventh one, Syria, was only saved by a defiant Russia, only for Uncle Sam to later find an excuse in Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to rain down her bombs.

Those clamouring for Obama’s award revocation have claimed that he Nobel Peace Laureate to have spilled the most blood after being declared winner.

While the Nobel Committee said that during his consideration “emphasis was also given to his support-in word and deed-for the vision of a world free from nuclear weapons”, Obama’s regime have been increasing the nuclear development budget over the years against a backdrop of protests from the opposition and global peace lobby groups.

A few weeks ago, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration is planning to spend $1 trillion dollars, a conservative estimate according to experts, to upgrade the country’s nuclear weapons capabilities. The authors of the analytical article clearly indicated that America was slowly preparing for a possible future nuclear war, especially given the rise of Russian and Chinese influence in the global arena.

“With Russia on the warpath, China pressing its own territorial claims and Pakistan expanding its arsenal, the overall chances for Mr. Obama’s legacy of disarmament look increasingly dim,” the Times article proclaimed.

Expected to spend at least $355 billion in the first ten years according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the plan focusses on developing and deploying nukes that are more powerful and reliable but smaller than the current warheads. While this will go far in serving Obama’s public rhetoric of reducing nuclear tonnage in US stockpiles, the system will yield more destructive warheads in terms of targeting capabilities and delivery systems. 

The fact that two powerful but controversial Americans never had their Nobel Peace Prize medals reposed might demoralize the current campaigns to have Obama’s Nobel revoked.

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States and the first statesman to be awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, triggered a lot controversy with the Norwegian Left branding him a “military madman” imperialist who furthered the bloody American conquest of Philippines. The awarding of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who have advocated and led a bloody military campaign against Vietnam, in 1973 led to the resignation of two Nobel Committee members in protest. 

But the fact that these individual’s names still remain engraved among the list of other “angels of peace” like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Junior is enough to make Obama rest easy, assured that regardless of the number of countries he bombs his legacy as a peace maker is already cast in gold.

The story was first published in The Standard opinion pages

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Unmasking the Mao Myth: Banned Book Says the Dictator Killed More than 70 Million Chinese to Sustain his 27-Year Rule

Conventional Chinese history claims that Mao Tse-tung (Zedong), known to the world as Chairman Mao, is the national hero who founded the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1920 and People’s Republic of China (PRC) in October, 1949.

But Chinese writer Jung Chang and her English husband John Halliday spent a whole decade digging through mountains of documents in and out of China and conducting interviews with family, close associates and opponents to uncover some of the darkest secrets in PRC and Mao’s 27-year reign.

From Mao’s peripheral role in the early years of the CCP, his relationship to Joseph Stalin, previously unknown personal traits like laziness, gluttony, lifelong constipation, addiction to sleeping pills, perversion, fear of physical labour to his outrageous perceptions of marriage as a “rape league” and glorification of death and destruction, Mao: The Unknown Story is so explosive that it was banned in China, and still is, after its publication in 2005.
“Why should we treat death differently? Don’t we want to experience strange things? Death is the strangest thing, which you will never experience if you go on living… I think this is the most wonderful thing,” Mao outlined his outrageous thoughts in one of his articles as a youth living in his native province of Hunan in 1920s. “When we look at history, we adore the times of war when dramas happened one after another… when we get to the periods of peace and prosperity, we are bored”.

These surreal thoughts were to be actualized during Chairman Mao’s 27 seven year iron-fisted reign over China during which more than 70 million Chinese died-the largest civilian deaths in peace time in the twentieth century-from starvation, torture, hard labour and execution as “capitalist-roaders”.

While many of the deaths, the authors note, were carried out during bloody purges and the infamous Cultural Revolution, more than half (38 million) of the victims starved to death as Mao exported food to USSR to bribe Stalin for the atomic bomb technology.

The millions who perished during the state-induced famine in the Great Leap Forward between 1958-61, where Mao infamously exclaimed that “half of China may well have to die”, is 95 times the number of those who died during the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85.

“Mao knowingly starved and worked these tens of millions of people to death. During the two critical years 1958-9, grain exports alone, was almost exactly 7m tons,” the authors of Mao: The Unknown Story, who terms the famine as the worst in recorded human history, says. “Had this food not been exported (instead distributed according to human critea), probably not a single person in China would have had to die of hunger. Mao’s Bomb caused 100 times as many deaths as both of the bombs Americans dropped on Japan”.

The tightly controlled media led by the Communist paper People Daily never reported this catastrophe accurately, hence most of the world never got to know the real story.

Frustrations in Mo China led to so many suicides among civilians and state officials that it bordered on a national crisis.

While his personal philosophy advocated for people to embrace death, the “Great Leader” apparently did everything to ensure he postponed his as long as humanly possible. The explosive books points out that “throughout his own life he was obsessed with finding ways to thwart death, doing everything he could to perfect his security and enhance his medical care”.

The measures also included carrying his personal cup everywhere as a rebel leader for fear of contamination, grounding all planes in China when he was airborne, ensuring no train was mobile when his was on the move and living in fortified nuclear-proof bankers.
Speaking sense to Chairman Mao, the writers note, meant instant arrest, detention and more often than not execution. 

Among members of his inner circle that found themselves on the wrong side after trying to correct the despot included Defense Minister Peng De-huai, purged in 1959, figurehead President Liu Sha-chi, detained and tortured to death for stopping the Great Famine in 1961 and the powerful CCP number two Li Biao, whose plane crashed as he fled to Taiwan with his family.

While his timid Prime Minister of 27 years Chou En-lai was denied treatment after being diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1974 to ensure he dies before the Chairman, the book says Mao led 9,000 Communist troops to a massacre in a bid to destroy brilliant Red Army Brigadier Xiang Ying who was threatening a military takeover.

Even the diminutive Deng Xiao-ping, the man who would later succeed Mao and set China on its current economic flight path, was purged a record three times.

When it came to quest for power, the Chairman spared no one including his blood relations. Besides laying siege on a city while his wife Kai-hui and two sons were still living there (she was later was executed by the city’s administrator), Mao Zedong had no qualms in leaving his two year-old son Little Mao with unknown peasants at the beginning of the Long March.

“Years later, watching a film about an orphan in Shanghai, An-ying (one of Mao’s sons) became very emotional and told his wife that his brother and he lived a similar life,” the revealing biography notes. “Sleeping on the pavement and scavenging through rubbish dumps for food and cigarettes stubs. During all these years Mao had never sent a word for them”.

The highly publicized Long March, the 6000-kilometre trek by the Communist forces under across the vast country after their defeat by the ruling Nationalists (Kuomingtang) Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in 1934 is unmasked as a hyped historical propaganda.
Although the event took place, it was never the adventurous military retreat full of heroics as the world is made to believe but a disastrous flee where the Red Army lost 70,000 men- three quarter of its original army- to the Nationalists, weather, starvation and diseases.

Even the route, from Fujian to the far flung province of Sichuan in Eastern China, was dictated upon the Communists through constant harassment by Nationalists’ warplanes and special force crack units.

The authors factually point that Communist historians later blew small skirmishes in The Long March into “major battles”, aimed at projecting Mao as the Chinese Genghis Khan in order to raise his national and international profile. These overplayed events endeared him to the CCP creator and chief financier Joseph Stalin who eventually facilitated his elevation as the “Chairman”.

The Chinese society and the world at large, Mao: The Untold Story claims, was conned into believing the “Mao Lie” through three books commissioned by the CCP and written by American journalist Edgar Snow between 1937-38. They were The Mao Tse-tung Autobiography, The Red Star Over China and Impressions of Mao Tse-tung.

“Mao covered up years of torture and murder, such as the AB purges, and invented battles and heroism in the trek across China, astutely now titled “the Long March,” Chang and Halliday narrates. “He led Snow to believe that, except when he was ill, he had ‘walked most of the 6,000 miles of the Long March like the rank and file”, which was a lie since he was carried by porters on a litter all the way.

These books not only sanitized the image of Mao and CCP in China and the West but also inspired impressionable youths to join the Communists in their millions. Other instruments of cult worship includes Mao’s anthem The East is Red, Little Red Book and huge portraits everywhere, including a humongous one that stills stands next to his mausoleum at the Tiananmen Square to date.

Mao’s role during the Sino-Japanese war, the biographers notes, was twisted to hide the fact that he supported the Japanese invasion since it worked for his strategy to grab power from the Nationalist government, which put him at loggerheads with his political godfather and Russian dictator Joseph Stalin. 

The Japanese played a critical role in weakening the Chinese national army leading to its eventual defeat by Mao and his Red Army in 1949.

“Yenan Terror”, the reference to the bloody reign of the Communists in their South East China capital of Yenan for ten years before they conquered the whole country, created the dreaded “Chairman Mao”, a figure that would trudge through the vast Asian country as a colossus for the next three decades.
Mao, and CCP historians, set out to change history by alluding that he, and not the Nationalists’ leader Chiang Kai-shek, was the father of modern China. 

But this, the books says, was a lie because Chiang is the one who led the war against Japan occupation and championed the recognition of China among the Big Four alongside Britain, Russian and the United States which eventually led to a permanent seat at the United Nations. 

Although, the authors say, the Communist regime eliminated prostitution, crime and corruption since they were punishable by death, this did not apply to the atheist Mao and his coterie.
While posting couples in different sides of China hence denying them conjugal rights Mao’s sexual indulgence was almost legendary, picking and dropping mistresses across the country with abandon and forming a unit of young beautiful women in the Praetorian Guard for his own “use”.

Hastily conceived mega projects meant to make China an industrial power during the Great Leap ended up being death traps where tens of thousands of labourers died, with some being considered a danger as late as early 2000.

There were other tragic national campaigns like eliminating sparrows by mobilizing the entire populations to wave brooms and sticks, which ended up killing huge numbers and increasing pests that the birds fed on. Mao had to “borrow” 200,000 sparrows from the Soviet Union to replenish the Chinese population.
The writers also reveal, for the first time, that the CCP planted thousands of acres of opium for export in the 1940s to fund their revolution.

“To a small circle, Mao dubbed his operation ‘the Revolution Opium War’. In Yenan opium was known by the euphemism ‘special product’,” the book quotes a close associate. “When we asked Mao’s old assistant, Shi Zhe, about growing opium, he answered: ‘it did happen’ and added: ‘if this thing is known it’s going to be very bad for us Communists”.

To show the sensitivity of the information in the banned book in today’s China, the only Chinese sources the authors reveal are those in Taiwan and abroad. Mainland China sources remains anonymous for their safety.

“Today, Mao’s portrait and his corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square in the heart of the Chinese capital,” Mao: The Unknown Story notes in its epilogue. “The current Communist regime declares itself to be Mao’s heir and fiercely perpetuates the myth of Mao”.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Storms Rages in President Salvar Kiir's Family

In the heat of the South Sudan heat, forces allied to President Salvar Kiir Mayardit and his former deputy Dr Riek Machar are locked in mortal combat for political power with fears that the world’s youngest nation could disintegrate.

But in far off Nairobi and London, noisy battles are boiling in the house of General Kirr with a woman purporting to be his wife hurling ‘missiles’ at his elder daughter, Christina Adut Nardes.

In a stern letter seen by Sagepage-Uncolonized, Aluel William Nyuon Bany, who claims to be Kiir’s wife sternly warns Adut to steer clear of her marriage and threatens unspecified consequences if she persists.
Reminding Madam Nardes that “I dint chose a relationship with your dad” since “it has been happening for at least 10 years”, Nyuon Bany nostalgically narrates the scene of her traditional wedding.

“The Payun clan and a great many happy witnesses attended my wedding. It was so beautiful. The bulls that were sacrificed were of…the highest order,” she recalls. “I was undressed as the daughter of William Nyuon and was clothed and accepted as the wife of Kiir Marial-dit. They took me as a Nuer, as a hero’s daughter, the love of his life and his wife but I DO NOT (emphasis hers) need to be your step mother”.

Aluel is the daughter of the late Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) William Nyuon Bany who alongside Dr. John Garang, Salvar Kiir and Arok Thon Arok were the top four generals of the movement in its early days. He died in 1996, leaving several children most of whom live in the United States today.

She made headlines in 2011 after she went missing in Juba where it was later alleged that she had been kidnapped by powerful people with good connections in government.

Explaining that she already has a powerful surname, Aluel firmly dictates her position by exhausting events surrounding the president’s family.
“Try as you will, if and when I leave your dad it will because I chose to do so. I’m Ethiopian by birth, South Sudanese by descent and a naturalized Briton. Please feel free to choose the jurisdiction where you seek your legal redress,” Aluel dares Nardes. “Stop meddling with my marriage and deal with your own marital problems…let your dad be with the woman he loves...allow us our choice. Consider this a written warning”. 

Talking to this writer on phone from Juba, sources from the South Sudanese government warned that the media should stay clear of matters of the first family.

“These are matters that are very sensitive and should not be published,” the source who chose to remain anonymous said. “Whatever is happening between this lady and Nardes should not go to the media at the moment. This is a criminal since the President has only one wife, Mama Mary Ayen Mayardit. She is a criminal who should be arrested”.

Joseph Lual, head of security at the South Sudan Embassy in Nairobi, called the newsroom to echo the same sentiments, saying what he knows is that Aluel lives in London.

This latest scuffle comes at the wake of another incidence last month when President Kiir son Manut Salvar Kiir was picked by police officers from Muthangari Police Station for allegedly assaulting his sister Winnie while drunk at their Manyani East Road house in Lavington.

Although Manut was released later, the South Sudanese leader is said to have convened a family meeting in Juba where he warned members against misbehaving in the public.

“I have always told you to behave in a way that would not create inconveniences to other people, because the way you conduct yourself would be interpreted to mean different things by different people,” Kiir was quoted by the Sudan Tribune. “You have to understand that you would never be alone wherever you go. So be careful with whatever you do. The real issue would be twisted and politicized”. 

The incidence led some political critics in Juba drawing the parallels between the incident and the president’s political life.

“If you cannot manage your own family, it follows automatically that it won’t be possible managing millions of people with different family members from different ethnic groups,” the same paper quoted an anonymous source saying.

An editor was arrested and the English version of The New Sudan Vision banned after it published an opinion alleging that President Kiir’s daughter Adut had eloped with an Ethiopian immigrant, then considered a symbol of national shame. The said immigrant, Nardes Gebeyehu Alemneh, is now Adut’s husband after a high profile wedding in Juba where the president handed her officially.  

The fact that the country was generally against the wedding to the son of Ethiopian elite is noted by Aluel when she tells her “allow us our choice. Just like the whole country grudgingly allowed your choice”.

The 28 year-old Aluel claims she has a copy of the marriage certificate and videos of her traditional wedding ceremonies. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thabo Mbeki: Slaying the Mandela Colossus

With the glowing tributes paid to Nelson Mandela by various world leaders during his memorial and his stature being compared to godlike figures like Martin Luther King Junior and Mahatma Gandhi, the narrative of the supremacy battles the iconic leader engaged with his successor Thabo Mbeki sounds un-Madibalike.

The topsy-turvy relationship between the duo brought out a side of Tata that few in the world will ever know, or believe.

Having taken the reigns of power from the “Grand Old Man”, Mbeki fought hard to step out of the great man’s shadow not only in South Africa but also across the world. This attempt, more often than not, ended up triggering rifts between him and Tata.
To understand the extent of this highly unpublicized conflicts between the man and his political mentor we analyzed, among other sources, Mbeki’s world acclaimed biography Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred.

Penned by one of South Africa’s finest scribes Mark Gevisser, the highly objective book took eight years of research where the writer had numerous interviews with the subject, family, close associates, critics and political friends and foes besides visiting his alma mater in Sussex, Moscow and Mbewuleni, his place of birth in Transkei.
“Given Mbeki’s history as the African National Congress’ (ANC) ranking diplomat, their first major public clash happened in the arena of foreign policy,” Gevisser explains in the 900-page tome

 “And although it appeared to be a brushfire-lit with the callous malice by the Nigerian Dictator Sani Abacha- it pointed to a problem that would become the fault line of their relationship, and would eventually cause it to break down almost entirely”.
Mbeki preferred Mandela handle Abacha with velvet gloves while the latter, under intense pressure from world leaders, wanted to punch Nigerian dictator bare knuckled. The hanging of Saro-Wiwa left Mbeki egg-faced and Madiba fuming.

The same differences emerged between the two on the issue on Zimbabwe. While Mandela clearly stated that the likes of Mugabe should not be tolerated due to his rubble-rousing land issue, Mbeki embraced the Zimbabwean strongman in public and accused his critics as racists out to demean Africans leaders.

The Mandela-Mbeki rivalry sometimes spilled into the public galleries in the full glare of cameras.

During Mandela’s 80 birthday in 1999, a day after he married Graca Machel, the newlyweds were feted with a mega concert televised globally and graced by the likes of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.

In his trademark love for classical literature, the then vice-president got carried away and chose for his toast to Madiba a misplaced passage from Shakespeare that brought the entire gathering into a tense silence.

Come let’s away in prison.
We too alone will sing like birds in th’ cage.
…so we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh.
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues.

“In other words: go away. Retreat into the dotage of idle chit-chat, with the wife young enough to be your daughter, and leave us alone to carry on with the real work,” Gevisser notes. “He all but shocked the rambunctious event into silence, as it carried King Lear’s tragic words to his daughter Cordelia just before his death”.

Besides being faulted for comparing Mandela to the autocratic Lear, poetizing prison to a man who had spent 27 years in jail was criticized by the media and those present as distasteful and lucking decorum.

After being asked by the press whether he would fit in the old man’s shoes during his acceptance speech as the ANC President after Mandela stepped down in December 1997, Mbeki crudely joked that Madiba wears “such ugly shoes” and “I would never be seen dead in such shoes”.

But the most dramatic spat between the two post-apartheid heavy weights was captured by a BBC documentary filmed during a wedding event in 2003 to which both men were guests. Infamous for his tendency to show up in events late, Mandela was not impressed by the fact that Mbeki was forty five minutes behind schedule. The microphone picking the old man’s snapping “we are hungry” to his predecessor Mbeki, who instead of apologizing hits back by “I’ am sure you are”.

But Madiba, being a true fighter, would not take the jibe lying down.

“In the late thirties there used to be a president of the ANC who used to say ‘I am the black prime minister. I cannot come early to meetings. I must come late, and all of you must see what a black prime minister in this country looks like’,” the old man said when he stood to speak. “I think my president here has taken after that president”.

To show his displeasure, Mbeki snubbed the old man’s calls for three months.

Another point of departure for the two men were their leadership styles which, analysts have observed, were dictated by the nation’s needs at the times each was at the helm.

 Mandela’s was pre-occupied with being the father of the nation hell bent on national reconciliation, which included assuring whites that the economic strata won’t be forcefully disrupted. On the other hand, Mbeki pursued transformation which would lift blacks out of poverty without forgetting, and probably not forgiving, centuries of white domination that have pushed millions into despondency.

“If people dislike Mbeki, it’s because he is the anti-patriarch. He doesn’t have a family. He’s not a ‘whose your daddy?’ kind of a guy,” an intelligence operative well versed with the introvert leader told his biographer. “He doesn’t want to be anyone’s daddy. He wants to engage with you as an equal, and if you are useless, he’ll tell you. He’s not going to soften things for you”.

Lacking what he referred to as “Mandela Exceptionalism” that endeared the revered icon to comrades and crowds, Mbeki preferred stringent management approach and concentrating power at the center. This, Gevisser notes, led to a more consolidated presidency and controlled political structures as opposed to Madiba’s lose system and style, which triggered many to brand Mbeki a despot.

Proponents of the despot theory pointed towards the way all functions of the state revolved around the presidency, parliament was whipped to submission and key party positions were filled with Mbeki yes-men. This apparent intolerance to dissent and the obvious quest to consolidate state power around his office, apparently, multiplied enemies. 

Powerful political heavyweights like Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) leader Zwelinzima Vavi, South Africa Communist Party (SACP) supremo Blade Nzimande, Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale, Mathews Phosa and ANC Secretary General Kgalema Montlante all became antiMbeki crusaders.
This gang would prove deadly in the ANC rebellion that eventually horded the “Jew of kaffirland” out of office in 2008. 

“When we spoke about it, he offered up a practical example, to make his point that Mandela’s status precluded good government, and that his executive style privileged personality over process,” Gervisser notes in his objective and engaging narrative. “There were also several instances-particularly following Mandela’s retirement in 1999-when demands or requests came through from Mandela which Mbeki felt that he had to veto, because they were inappropriate. This undoubtedly created tension between the two men”.

The friction between the duo played in the international scene where many world leaders, according to Mbeki, were “slow” in noting that he was now the president a few months after the old man’s retirement. Sometimes the new leader went overboard in a bid to assert his authority.

Being a close friend of the then US President Bill Clinton, Mandela once visited Washington just a few days before Mbeki made an official state visit as the head of state in 2000. Madiba’s rapturous welcome in the American capital all but buried his successor’s tour.
Determined to make a point to both Clinton and Mandela, Mbeki made an unexpected visit to Texas to meet with the Republican frontrunner for that year’s elections George W. Bush.

“Mbeki had told several people that, when he first met Al Gore, the vice-president and Democratic Party candidate arrogantly told him what needed to be done in Africa,” his biographer claims. “Bush said, in his good-ol’ boy way, ‘Gee, I don’t know nothing about Africa. You tell me what you think I should do”.

This personal chitchat, perhaps, explains why Mbeki had an unparalleled access to White House during the entire Bush presidency despite South Africa’s harsh stance on certain American policies like the Iraqi war and Zimbabwe.

“At one point, Bush allegedly complained to Mbeki that he felt awkward being phoned by Mandela when it was Mbeki, now, who was his South African counterpart,” Gevisser further says. “Meanwhile, Mandela would complain that in the course of the day he could call all the world leaders and the only one who would not return his call immediately was ‘my own president’”. 

But while most of these differences were subtle and well concealed Mbeki controversial perception on the AIDS pandemic, according to analysts, invigorated the aging Madiba into full fighting spirit.
The second black South African president had stirred controversy across the world by claiming that he did not believe in the conventional theory that HIV caused AIDS, hence delaying his government’s response to a disaster that was claiming 800 South Africans daily.

Besides openly saying the president was wrong and criticizing the government slow adoption of a nationwide ARV programme, Mandela’s quest to meet Mbeki and discuss the issue face-to-face was allegedly spanned off for a year.

“Finally, when Mandela got to see Mbeki privately in early 2002, he felt he was treated dismissively-said those close to him-as a ‘quarrelsome old man’”, Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred alleges.

This, Mbeki men claimed, triggered Madiba to take the AIDS campaign with fervor and zeal. When the government was appealing against a court order demanding that it provides pregnant women and rape victims with Nevirapine, Mandela approved the awarding of the two medics who have pioneered the treatment with Nelson Mandela Prize for Health and Human Rights.

Asked whether he thought Madiba was waging a proxy war against his government, Mbeki was straight forward in the claim that the old man was trying to remain relevant in a world where he couldn’t influence government policy any more.

“’That was the problem, it’s that disempowerment… I think, to some extent, it came up close to him as a conscious effort on my part to disempower him’”, he told Givesser during an interview. 

“But at the same time, he was implying that Mandela had ‘strayed’ into AIDS not just out of heartfelt conviction, but also as a response to the disempowerment he had felt at the hands of his successor”.
Another issue that triggered a rift between the two is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. Mbeki was opposed to the report demonizing ANC freedom fighters for supposed gross human rights violations for their treatment of detainees in their Angolan camps in the mid eighties.

On the hand Mandela, due to retire from the presidency in six months, made a point of calling TRC chair Desmond Tutu to let him know he accepted the report in its entirety, a fact that irked Mbeki as the ANC President.
“The TRC was wrong and misguided in its scurrilous attempts to criminalise the heroic struggles of the people of South Africa,” he objected. “These struggles had, in fact, brought about the dawn of peace, democracy and justice”.

But despite these differences the two men had many meeting points. 

Besides Mbeki writing many of Mandela’s speeches including the one at his historic inauguration in May 1994, the old man trusted his vice-president with the running of government while he concentrated with national reconciliation and global engagements.
By the time Madiba was subdued by illness and old age up to his eventual demise a few weeks ago, the two comrades had, apparently, fully reconciled.

“Mbeki made peace by agreeing to draft an exquisite 85th birthday message to Mandela in July 2003, in which he lauded his predecessor as “God’s gift to the world” and a “monument to the triumph of the human spirit”,” the biographer concludes. “Shaun Johnson who edited the publication in which the message would appear recalls taking the message to show Mandela: He reads it twice and his eyes tear up. He calls Zelda(la Grange, his assistant) in, and asks her to get “my president” on line…”.