Zuma got tough on Gaddafi
President Jacob Zuma told Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last week that South Africa “abhors this heinous violation of the human rights of his own people”, minister of international relations and co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says.
She also hinted that the African Union (AU) could suspend Libya at the meeting of its Peace and Security Council now under way in Addis Ababa and which Zuma was attending.
She said on Thursday Zuma had told Gaddafi, who had phoned him to explain his position on the crisis, that the killing of his people “must stop with immediate effect”.
In a reference to the call, Libya’s state-run television station reported that Zuma had told Gaddafi that the AU should investigate the “conspiracy” against him and the world should not believe what foreign media were saying about Libya.
Zuma’s office issued a statement on Wednesday saying the Libyan TV report had been “distorted”. It pointed out that South Africa had voted for UN Security Council sanctions on Libya and that Zuma had condemned Libya’s killing of civilians while he was in France last week.
Nkoana-Mashabane said on Thursday that Zuma had taken advantage of the call from Gaddafi to explain to the Libyan leader why South Africa had led the campaign for his country to be suspended from the UN Human Rights Council last week.
He had also explained why South Africa – with the two other African nations on the UN Security Council, Nigeria and Gabon – had sponsored the resolution to impose sanctions on Libya.
She likened Gaddafi’s actions to the 1961 Sharpeville and 1976 Soweto massacres of unarmed civilians by members of the apartheid regime’s security forces.
She declined to say whether South Africa supported proposals now being discussed by Nato to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Gaddafi’s forces bombing opposition strongholds.
Zuma had tackled Gaddafi before on issues, she said.
“It is only President Zuma who has consistently followed up on the many misadventures by Gaddafi in the AU.
“When Gaddafi tried to remain permanent president or chairman of the AU, it was President Zuma who confronted him and told him, ‘We have to respect the statutes of the AU and if you try to do that, we will embarrass you by making sure you do not become permanent chairman or president’.”
Zuma had also “taken Gaddafi to task” at the AU summit in 2010 when he proposed a resolution to transform the AU into a “United States of Africa”