Last week, Wonkie was invited to appear on BBC World to discuss the foreign intervention in Libya and next steps for the country. This arrived on the back of a rather interesting week in South Africa. Whilst president Jacob Zuma was prancing around overseas, local youth rebels Julius Malema and his cohorts, were causing havoc in the Johannesburg city centre. In fact, if you saw the video footage outside Luthuli House, you’d find it difficult to believe there wasn’t some tape mixup with one of the recent North African uprisings.
At first, it was all quite puzzling for the Wonkie team. Why was Jacob Zuma out of the country in such a politically sensitive week? Why did South Africa boycott the Paris Friends of Libya summit? What was Jacob Zuma really asking for in Norway?
Over the weekend, Wonkie reporters went deep undercover to bring readers worldwide The Whole Truth. At 02h13 on Sunday, after siphoning some vodka into secret sources in a seedy nightclub just outside Oslo, the shocking reality was confirmed. Jacob Zuma was in Europe in a proactive attempt to secure the legitimacy of his government, and to request NATO intervention in South Africa against the rapidly growing rebel movement.
This made perfect sense given that South Africa has seen how UN resolution 1973 had been implemented in Libya. Clearly, Jacob Zuma could not risk NATO and the international community coming to the aid of the local Malema-led youth rebel movement. They would simply bomb the blue lights off his government’s brigade. So what choice did he have but to ask for NATO’s assistance first!
Seriously for a moment, it would be completely naive to believe that the UN no-fly zone would result in anything other than what actually happened. Since Mr Zuma is well-known to be politically shrewd, and far from being naive, what would South Africa stand to gain by boycotting the talks about Libya’s future? Further, what would South Africa gain by holding out on recognising the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the ruling authority in Libya – especially since most of the world’s real powers have already recognised it?
A few scenarios spring to mind in response:
- Colonel Gaddafi has Jacob Zuma and/or the ANC regime by the testicles – who knows about what – but arms, money, etc come to mind immediately as possibilities
- Jacob Zuma is positioning South Africa to be a player to be reckoned with on the world stage – e.g. no decisions can be taken about the legitimacy of a government in Africa unless South Africa agrees to it
- Mr Zuma could be eyeing one of Gaddafi’s family members as his next wife – for context, see Wonkie’s Jacob Zuma cartoon
- The NTC needs South Africa’s blessing as South Africa is a dominant player in the African Union. Mr Zuma is playing hard to get now, to negotiate a better oil deal later on
- Supporting the NTC and attending the Friends of Libya summit would be akin to supporting Julius Malema and his local rebel movement – how inconsistent would that be?
One of the above reasons aside, Wonkie feels that South Africa has missed out on an opportunity to contribute significantly to the well-being of Libyan citizens. Besides the obvious benefits South Africa could have gained for itself, the experience of locally-led transition to a true democracy would be invaluable for Libya. The challenge going forward for Libya now is not the capture of Gaddafi, or rebuilding of infrastructure. It is one of governance and putting the correct institutions and processes in place to lead the country effectively.
Meanwhile, back in South Africa, the ANC made a decision last week to potentially make a decision affecting the future of Julius Malema.
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Related articles on Libya:
- How Jacob Zuma resolves Libya conflict
- Muammar Gaddafi cartoons
- the North African Islamic revolutions