On the 21st March, South Africa celebrated Human Rights Day. At a rally on the day, president Jacob Zuma added his voice to those against military intervention in Libya.
“Operations aimed at enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians should be limited to just that…” – Jacob Zuma
Wonkie wonders whether Mr Zuma actually believes that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is going to quietly step down from his position, and allow a free and fair election in Libya. After all, that would be the peaceful and political solution “based on the will of the Libyan people”, as Mr Zuma put it. At this point Wonkie believes there is even less chance of that happening than the South African cricket team actually winning a big knock-out match at any World Cup.
Below is Mr Zuma’s prepared reply to a question about the Libyan crisis in parliament on March 17 2011:
Mr M G P Lekota (Cope) asked:
Given the history of this country where people who were fighting for freedom were killed by an undemocratic regime, what are the reasons for his Government’s initial silence when the regime of Colonel M Gaddafi killed hundreds of people who were rising up against his regime?
President Zuma’s reply:
South Africa does not operate in a vacuum on international matters. It operates within the ambit of the African Union and the United Nations.
We regarded the Libyan situation very seriously from the beginning and Government has not been silent or inactive on this matter.We began engaging with other Heads of State and Government on this matter when events started unfolding, as we were very concerned about the situation.
The South African government has also spoken out on various platforms on this matter. We called on all parties involved to exercise restraint in order to prevent further loss of life. We also called on the Government and people of Libya to seek a speedy and peaceful resolution to the current crisis in accordance with the will of the people.
Furthermore, on the 26th of February 2011 at the United Nations Security Council, the South African government, through its Permanent Representative, Ambassador Baso Sangqu, condemned the loss of civilian lives in Libya. The Minister and Deputy Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation as well as other Government representatives have also spoken out on the loss of life in various public forums.
We have also expressed our views directly to the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, regarding the unacceptable violence and loss of civilian lives.
The AU is seized with the matter and South Africa will work under the guidance and leadership of the AU. The AU has appointed a High Level Panel consisting of Uganda, South Africa, Republic of Congo, Mauritania and Mali to attend to the matter. Given the urgency of the matter, the Panel has begun its work.
There will be a Wonkie article later this month around the politics of intervention – military or otherwise. In the meantime, please participate in the poll below and let Wonkie know your thoughts about South Africa’s role in such African crises.
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