Muammar Gaddafi’s Death: How South Africa Played A Role In Destroying Libya

The present state of Libya after the death of its foremost leader Muammar Gaddafi has drawn concerns with many, including the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe blaming African countries for taking part in destroying the oil-rich country, Libya.

Gaddafi died in 2011 after he was captured through the joint effort of Libya’s rebels, the U.S., and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) but nearly six years after his death, Zimbabwe’s President turns to whip South Africa and Nigeria for playing a role in the killing.

The nonagenarian described the decision by the African countries to support NATO’s “no fly zone” as “shameful and disgraceful” as it resulted in the killing of the long time leader Libyan leader.

According to Zimbabwe’s state-owned Herald newspaper, Mugabe was addressing international bodies during the official opening of the 67th World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa summit in Victoria Falls early this week where he slammed Africa’s two strongest countries- South Africa and Nigeria for folding its arms when the innocent country was destroyed.

“The weakness of our world system is that when innocent countries are attacked, we fold our hands. I’m saying this off the cut because it worries me. Where are we going? Where is the world going,” Mugabe was quoted as saying.

How South Africa Took Part In The Death Of Muammar Gaddafi

On 20 October 2011, Muammar Gaddafi who ruled for over 42 years was killed. While the interim Libyan government initially said he was killed in an exchange of gunfire, a Human Rights Watch investigation a year later could not reach a conclusion as to the exact circumstances of Gaddafi’s death but suggested he may have been summarily executed.

Before his death, Libya’s embattled regime declared a cease-fire Friday as an international coalition was preparing to enforce a United Nations-backed no-fly zone to protect civilians in the war-torn country

South Africa joined a number of other permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) in adopting its Resolution 1973. The resolution authorised “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in the escalating civil conflict in Libya, and was ultimately implemented by NATO, with controversial consequences.

The no-fly zone decision had earlier failed to garner enough support after China and Russia who were part of the five countries with veto powers at the UNSC opposed the Nato backed resolution.

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South Africa’s decision to support the decision came as a surprise to the country’s foreign policy observers because it contradicted a number of key tenets of post-Apartheid South Africa’s foreign policy which include non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other states, (especially African states); a reticence to agree to the use of force in resolving international crises, especially in the absence of a cease-fire and host government approval.

A while after, South Africa came to register its regret and lack of clarity in the manner in which the no-fly zone would be imposed at the time of supporting its passage.

“I don’t think we explored thoroughly the modalities of the how . . . how do you ensure no-fly zones?

“All of us were moved by the carnage we saw in Libya. We were moved by the extent of destruction of civilian life and I think true to the [African Union] and South Africa, and correctly so, we thought now we must protect ordinary people.

“But the modalities were left, I think, unresolved conclusively and those who had the means then developed their own means to enforce the 1973 resolution,” the then Foreign Affairs Director-General Jerry Matjila said while briefing the MPs on international matters that South Africa had been in the dark about the intensity of the bombardment required to enforce a no-fly zone when it decided to support the resolution.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe slammed not just South Africa, but also Nigeria and Garbon for its”blinded” role in war-torn Libya.

“Then it came to us poor Africans. The Poor Africans, sometimes not thinking well about the consequences of those attacks. So, what did we have? Quite disgraceful and Shameful thing” he said.

Mugabe, however, applauded Muammar Gaddafi, saying: “Yes he may have been a dictator but he was a friend of his people, a lover of his people, one who desired that his people should develop and not live in poverty…”

Mugabe said that Gaddafi wanted to democratise the African Union to be better politically and economically united.

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Rachael Gumede
Rachael Gumede
Rachael is a content developer and a huge music geek. Her natural storytelling abilities combined with her quick thinking, and critical evaluations makes her the queen of addictive stories. When she is not writing about people and events that matter, she is probably listening or dancing to some real, cool jams.


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