While exiled Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam Mengistu must be wondering if the winds of change rustling the autumn leaves of Harare might disturb his nest, another exiled leader nearby in Pretoria might be having similar worries and for somewhat related reasons.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, deposed as president of Haiti in February 2004, has been living in South Africa as a guest of the government since then. He was actually more former president Thabo Mbeki's guest than South Africa's, which could be a problem. In January 2004, Mbeki was one of only two international leaders to accept an invitation from Aristide to attend the bicentennial of the revolt of Haitian slaves against the French colonial power.
Already the rebellion against Aristide's rule was rumbling and a helicopter carrying some of Mbeki's security people was fired at from the ground. An SA Navy ship had to be parked off-shore in case Mbeki had to flee and the South African government contributed R10 million for the celebrations.
Mbeki explained all of this effort and cost to an exasperated country as being a necessary show of support for the first successful rebellion against colonial rule.
The Unisa academic also speculated that Aristide's tenure at the university might be in jeopardy if Pityana were removed from the vice-chancellorship as unionists and the students congress want him to be. Though Cope politicians have said the reason they want him out is because he has shown support for their party, the academic said the real reason was his autocratic and opaque style of management.
Will Mbeki's political demise put pressure on Aristide to go home? A senior ANC official in the Zuma camp thinks not, especially since the Haiti regime doesn't want him.
"We were refugees ourselves all over Africa and the world and so if we kick Aristide out, we would be accused of amnesia," he said.