Zimbabwe's opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai's prominent media headlines do neither help the country, nor will these help himself, the SADC facilitator and former South African president Thabo Mbeki has said.
"As you secure applause because of the insult against us that we are 'cowards', you will have to consider the reality that our people have accepted into their countries very large numbers of Zimbabwean brothers and sisters in a spirit of human solidarity, prepared to sustain the resultant obligations," said Mbeki in his letter written to Tsvangirai and published in full text by Sunday News.
"None of our countries displayed characteristics of cowardice when they did this," he stressed in his letter.
"All of us will find it strange and insulting that because we do not agree with you on a small matter, you choose to describe us in a manner that is most offensive in terms of African culture, and therefore offend our sense of dignity as Africans, across our borders," wrote Mbeki.
"You know this, too, that the rest of southern Africa, your neighboring countries, has also had the unavoidable obligation to carry much of the weight of the burden of the Zimbabwe crisis, in many ways," he said.
Among other things, various countries of the region host large numbers of economic migrants from Zimbabwe, who impose particular burdens on these countries.
"None of our countries and governments have spoken publicly of this burden, fearful that we might incite the xenophobia to which all of us are opposed," he added.
Mbeki said, realistically, Zimbabwe will never share the same neighborhood with the countries of Western Europe and North America, and therefore secure its success on the basis of friendship with these, and contempt for the decisions of its immediate African neighbors.
"I say this humbly to advise that it does not help Zimbabwe, nor will it help you as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, that the MDC-T contemptuously repudiates very serious decisions of our region, and therefore our continent, describing them as 'a nullity'," he added.
"It may be that, for whatever reason, you consider our region and continent as being of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe, believing that others further away, in Western Europe and North America, are of greater importance," Mbeki said.