Madndela breaks silence on Zimbabwe, says tragic failure of leadership

June 26th, 2008 - 12:34 pm ICT by ANI  

Gordon Brown

London, June 26 (ANI): Former South African President Nelson Mandela has broken his silence on the Zimbabwe crisis to condemn the tragic failure of leadership in the violence-torn country.

Mandela did not issue any specific call for action, and did not criticise by name Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, a fellow activist from the days of the struggle against White minority rule.

But in his statement, read out at a fundraising dinner last night in Hyde Park for his 90th birthday, he made clear the depth of his feelings on the matter, The Independent reported.

After speaking of his sadness about the conflict in Darfur, he said: Nearer to home, we had seen the outbreak of violence against fellow Africans in our own country and the tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe.

It was Mandelas first statement since Zimbabwes March 29 elections, which triggered a wave of electoral cleansing by Robert Mugabes supporters after he came a humiliating second in the presidential contest against his opposition challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Among the guests in Hyde Park were British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former US President Bill Clinton, who also spoke, as well as Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, and many of the stars who act as ambassadors for Mandelas charities.

Mandela, who is in Britain for a week-long visit in advance of his 90th birthday next month, mentioned Zimbabwe only briefly, calling on his audience to reach out to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized in society.

In the audience were Will Smith, and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, classical singer Katherine Jenkins, and former James Bond star, Pierce Brosnan.

The television presenter Oprah Winfrey, campaigner Bob Geldof and actor Robert de Niro were also in attendance.

Many of the guests will return to the park on Friday for a charity concert in Mandelas honour, featuring performances from Queen, Leona Lewis and Annie Lennox.

However, absent from the bill will be the supermodel Naomi Campbell, following her conviction for air rage.

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