Originally: Mbeki’s Mistake

Gerald Oriol Junior

President Thabo Mbeki made a grave mistake when he attended ceremonies in Haiti to celebrate the 200th anniversary of my country’s independence.

We view Mbeki’s trip as a form of acceptance and tolerance of the fascist regime of President Jean- Bertrand Aristide. He has tarnished the image of SA in Haiti, for the majority of Haitians deplored the fact that he celebrated our independence with the narcotic government in Haiti, while we were either demonstrating in the streets demanding that Aristide depart, or silent at home and not attending any official ceremonies.

I don’t know if Mbeki’s political advisers had informed him about Aristide, but I want to tell him, clearly and simply, that Aristide is not a priest who came to power to bring democracy and prosperity to Haiti and its population of 8-million. He is a corrupt and complex individual who was smart enough to manipulate people and I dread that Mbeki may be one of those unfortunate people.

Aristide is a demagogue. He is always ready to make reforms and concessions but only in his political speeches. Aristide is corrupt. He has enriched himself with sources that are known to be illegal. Aristide is the mastermind behind most crimes in Haiti. He has recruited young, poor individuals from ghettos (some of them barely 12 years old) and instead of educating them like he is proclaiming in his literacy programme, he is urging them to be violent and has developed a militia, infamously known as the chimeres, to execute his malicious orders.

On December 5, Aristide allowed the chimeres to enter the state university forcefully and harass students who were peacefully gathered to demand his resignation. Many students were stoned or beaten with sticks. University rector Jean-Marie Pacquiot was beaten with iron bars. Both of his legs were broken.

Mbeki must make a public apology to his fellow countrymen and to the Haitian people. I implore Mbeki to urge Aristide to step down. This will preserve the image of SA as a liberator and protector of rights, and help it maintain and regain some dignity.