September 9th, 2011
03:17 PM GMT
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Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) Many here in Africa are still struggling to come to terms with the increasing realization that the Gadhafi regime is all but over.

South Africa recently recommitted itself to the African Union’s “roadmap” as a way to resolve the crisis in Libya. For South Africa, the solution involves an “interim government” in which “nobody must be left out,” according to a government spokesperson.

It is unclear just how inclusive South Africa would like this ideal Libyan government to be. Do they suggest Gadhafi or just Gadhafi loyalists share power with the rebel leaders?

This vision of a negotiated settlement, where enemies and friends hammer out a political compromise over a table, not a desert battle field, is a model South Africa has championed across the continent.

Zimbabwe and Kenya, for example, are both laboring under “governments of national unity.” For critics, this kind of government allows the loser or incumbent to hold onto power while giving the opposition a place in the seat of government.

Each of these examples is a special case and has their own unique context, but there is criticism that South Africa prefers a one-size-fits-all approach to any conflict or crisis on the continent.

The reason for South Africa’s dogmatic insistence on “negotiated settlements” is, they say, based on the historic agreement that saw the creation of a democratic South Africa in 1994.

This came after years of talking and compromise between the apartheid government and the liberation movements. South Africa believes its “miracle” of a peaceful political transition should be replicated and encouraged where possible.

Cynics like to helpfully remind the apparently idealistic South Africans that in the prelude to negotiations there were decades of violence in apartheid South Africa; even the now-ruling ANC committed itself to an “armed struggle” that was only rescinded just before the first democratic elections.

However, based on their own moral victory at the negotiating table and their standing in the continent, South Africans like to see themselves as punching above their weight in the United Nations and other multilateral institutions.

They believe they deserve a seat on the U.N. Security Council and suggest the country’s recent admission to the developing club of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations is another example of South Africa’s soft power on the international stage.

However, just how realistic is this foreign policy? As South Africa digs its heels in regarding Libya’s future, many worry that the country’s stubborn refusal to see beyond a framework of negotiations and interim governments is harming the Southern African nation’s reputation.

One news report suggested “South Africa’s out-of-sync foreign policy may cost it dearly.” Another newspaper suggested that South Africa’s policy towards Libya has been “inconsistent and arguably naïve.”

There will be many who agree with South Africa’s so-called “principled” stance towards Libya – even though they voted for the initial U.N. resolution on humanitarian grounds President Zuma has repeatedly said the NATO bombing campaign is being misused to push for “regime change.”

Since it emerged as a democratic nation, South Africa’s diplomats have sought to align themselves with the developing world or the “South.”

They have steadfastly refuse to abandon old liberation friends, such as Gadhafi, and have consistently become more aggressively anti-Western in their outlook.

This approach earns traction from Africans who feel mistreated or misunderstood by the “North.” Others suggest the policy is based on an “us-versus-them” attitude, which is not helpful to any of the role players.

As the last days of Gadhafi appear to draw to a close, is this type of policy a morally principled stand or just confused and naïve wishful thinking?

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Emmanuel Joneson, Lagos

    I believe South Africa is right. Not everything Europeans or Americans say should be regarded as the best option. History on Iraq, Afghanistan, Isreal and their economies has shown that the judgement of the west should not always be trusted. It is time we give chance to alternative opinions like that of South Africa in this case. History will again, judge who is right on Libya, as it has shown in Iraq.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  2. Phillip J. Frai

    I do not know who gave the right to U.S. and NATO to judge other countries "how to live". It's like I go to someone's home, smashing furniture and scatter things, beating people in that house and teach them how to live in my way, not in their. I hope that those who are responsible for the war in Libya, the members of the U.S. government and other countries actively participated in the war, will answer under the law for their bloody actions. When people say we helping them to build "democracy society", this is obviously giant hypocrisy that you can imagine of. Why? First of all, answer the question, how many people died by the actions of NATO and the U.S.?
    If the Generals of the United States of America, those who still respect and believe in honor and justice, disobeyed orders of Bush and not attacked Afghan and Iraq, but sent elite SWAT troops to capture the White House, FBI headquaters and CIA and overthrow those bastards and murderers(i.e. government of US), then would be saved hundreds of thousands of people. And those Generals who have dared to take such an action would enter in history as Heroes of the whole World.

    September 10, 2011 at 2:37 am |
  3. Alan

    If the people of Libya had a vote, I am sure that they would vote not to recognise the African Union. Luckily for the AU, the NTC might be more diplomatic than that.

    Unfortunately, many other Africans, particularly those in Zimbabwe, have continued to suffer from tyranny imposed on them with the AU's and in particular with South Africa's help.

    South African seems to be in a fit of pique that the world has not respected it's African Solution. While it continues to try to impose tyranny on people desperate for freedom, and then behaves like a spoilt child when those people earn freedom despite they AU's attempts to frustrate them, then it will continue to earn the world's contempt rather than respect.

    September 10, 2011 at 3:38 am |
  4. m turay

    is time for africa to wae-up and unite our self, so we can think and build our nation, so people can stop tell us what to do, god bless africa.

    September 10, 2011 at 4:31 am |
  5. 'humanitarianman

    Ghaddafi is out of government now. We shall soon see how democratic the American/NATO allie are. The truth will soon come out wether the war was a selfish agenda by a band of crusader looking to further their interest at the expense of others using opportunist 'humanitarian' propaganda or a well intentioned effort. My prediction is that situation in Libya will not be much different to what is obtained in Iraq, Fghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan ...... it may possibly be worst

    September 10, 2011 at 4:44 am |
  6. sipho

    I don't think that the model of government of national unity is solution in Libya. The routes to freem for SA and Libya are differ. The same model proved to be unsuccessful in Zimbambe. Zimbambe government of unity is not working properly. I suspect that the civil war will soon resume in Zimbambe. SA proposed the same model in Ivory Coast. Why SA did not proposed the same model to Gaddafi before the start of Civil war in Libya? SA was in possession to know that Gadaffi leadership was autocratic style. In my opinion, AU must recognise NTC as legitimate government of Libya. This will end the war

    September 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  7. Zinko-mahajaned

    Non inclusive government, lead to what we have witnessed in Zim, Angola, DRC and many others. NTC can go ahead and rule Libya with help of the west, few Gaddafi supporters left out may resort to terror methods and destabilize the country like what is happening in Iraq. South Africa is 100% correct and SA has no oil agenda unlike the west who think they can resolve middle east problem with their eye on oil to pay their debts.

    September 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  8. Ricardo Ban

    I must agree with the Free Libya side – SA is stubbornly stupid not to support te NTC, just as it is stupid to keep on supporting Evil Bob in Zim. I suppose those Gaddafi supporters are also happy about te cruel repression of Assad in Syria, I support Free Libya, Free Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, etc. There is a new awakening in the world – we had best "get with it"

    September 11, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  9. Vortigern

    South Africa's position is reflective of the nature of the ANC government. The ANC is a disparate entity with elements ranging from extreme black nationalists to extreme left-wing communists, with every form and type in between, including pro-western business interests and anti-western revolutionaries. Because of the nature of the organization, they try to please all people all the time and this is reflected in their policies, which appear indecisive at best and confused at worst. This attitude among the ANC top structures will become more strongly visible in the near future as a radical power struggle within the party threatens to tear it apart. Politicians in precarious positions will try to appear more and more accommodating, afraid of alienating any faction within their ranks. The growing anti-western sentiment among some of the rising powers in the ANC should be a concern, though. I foresee a growing alliance between countries such as South Africa, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran (possibly with covert backing from China), should these elements emerge in control of the ANC after their 2012 party congress.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  10. USA

    SA is in trouble from the oppressors, looks like they shall have to go Zimbabwes way, take away all from the whites and re distribute to the blacks meanwhile the western world imposes sanctions on SA, to get away from the sanctions SA turns to China for help and it becomes a win win situation.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  11. mark

    why would anyone listen to what Zuma and his useless band of african leaders have to say -name one country they have helped ?you can't and nor can we stand by and watch these pathetic africans refuse to show accountability and responsibility to the people they are supposed to be serving instead of showering the people in power with corrupt gifts and rights above the oridinary citizen-Nothing positive has come from them , gaddafi was in control of security on the a.u and then they gave it to mugabe--someone stop me from laughing before my head falls off

    September 13, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  12. Kajan

    Disagree with you on this ... "They have steadfastly refuse to abandon old liberation friends, such as Gadhafi, and have consistently become more aggressively anti-Western in their outlook. "

    SA is pro-western, as we support western media in all its forms. ( Hope western people are pro-South African? )

    SA tries to look at both sides off the story – as we are a liberal nation. With regard to the Libya issue , the people on the African Continent should benefit.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  13. Kajan

    ...btw , could the editor check that sentence again.

    " They have steadfastly refuse to..."

    it must change to "They have steadfastly refused to ..."

    September 13, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  14. Alain

    If S.A. wants to play the big brother of Africa why dont start cleaning at their door. They could have helped the zimbabweans to get rid of their old dictator and become a real democracy during the last elections. Instead of taking a stand for those anti-democratic regimes?

    September 13, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  15. Scott

    As a white South African , i feel its important that the world be aware of the goings on within modern day South Africa ruled by an ANC led government , this will explain the mindset and motives behind issues like Libya . It is a known fact that Gaddafi and the ANC have had close ties , there have even being reports that South Africa supplied Libya with weapons last year , which as far as i know have still being unconfirmed , but certainly wouldnt surprise me . Africa as a whole , and i include the ANC gov in this , have dual personalities , they are quick to accept international /western support , be it aid , financial , trade etc. with this in mind they are certainly not obliged to agree with the West on all issues , but western nations are hopefully starting to see the real ANC gov for what it is . Although they wont state it clearly and publicly , this gov is very Anti -West , its policies are echoed througout its racist BEE policies , we are living in a South Africa that the world views as a miracle nation , Mandela comes to mind im sure for most , yes a remarkable man , but what the world needs to know is that the Mandela days are over , there is a new breed of ANC 'leader' and they are very anti-white , very anti-west . This is a government that is plaqued by massive corruption , fraud , racism , self fullfulment , nepotism , arrogance , their ANC Youth Leaque creating further divisions amongst different racial groups by their racist attitudes and racist public statements – Mandela's dream of a free and fair South Africa is fast being eroded . As a White South African reading articles like this , i would like to say that when the world sees statements like 'South Africa' wants this and wants that , keep in mind my comments and you will understand first hand , that the ANC does not speak for everyone in this country , they do as they please and are voted in again and again by illterate and uneducated masses/voters ( making up possibly 65 % or more of the population ) who dont know any better . Many educated Black South Africans will agree with my sentiments , they are seeing the modern day ANC gov for what they are , and are choosing to vote and stand up against this corrupt regime . The ANC has become an embarrassment to all educated and intelligent South Africans , and we will not align ourselves with a government that openly supports dictators like Gaddafi and Mugabe .

    September 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  16. Matthew

    @scott, you sound like bitter afrikaner. You are embarrassing yourself on an international platform. Afrikaners looted and milked the South African wealth no nearly nothing. This wealth was handed to white south africans who made up only 12% of the population for over 50 years.This is something that the world should know. BEE is there to adress the imbalances of the past and to level the playing fields for all. Afrikaners (white south africans) benefitted from apartheid like no one's business and are still continuing to reap the returns of apartheid loot at the expense of the blacks. South Africa is actually pro-west, it is just that it stands for what is seen as justice, if SA do not agree with the west then it do not mean it is anti-west. Majority of Afrikaners feels the way you feel because you still cannot come to terms that south africa is ruled by the black regime, remove that chip on your shoulder and join the debate on the economic freedom.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  17. Andrew

    SA has squandered the opportunity to be a credible leader in Africa. Zimbabwe is a case in point and this their project if I may call it that has been a monumental disaster. Their policy of quite diplomacy has been too loud in terms of what it has failed to achieve than the positives to come out of it.

    Failing to resolve the Zimbabwean situation, with all the social and economic impact it has had to SA is further indictment of SA as a very inept broker. The ANC leadership is anti common people. They hobnob, dine and sup with the devil at each and every turn. Three years after Mugabe lost elections SA stil supports him. Why.

    For the common people, we are happy with the fall of each and every dictator even if its for a day, for it allows us to laugh, hope and believe that our road to freedom and liberty is sure being paved. Get over it SA, Gaddafy is now history and you can only make yourselves caricatures by advocating for these failed inclusive govts where loosers continue to rule.

    Address the xenophobic, racism, poverty and inequities in your country and maybe then you can dabble in the affairs of others.

    Congrtaulations Libyans for kicking Gaddafy and his friends to the dust bin of history.

    September 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  18. Scott

    @matthew , my comments were made on this forum exactly for people such as you , wet behind the ears who think they know more than they actually do . I suggest you get your facts straight before embarrassing yourself in this forum . You conveniently choose to ignore most of the ANC governments wrong doings and seem to concentrate on BEE affirmative action and passing blame to the 'Afrikaaner'. Let me enlighten you ( although i think you are beyond that ) , Apartheid was wrong , as South Africans we all agree and we have moved on – almost 20 years on , in that time the ANC government has done very little for the masses and has instead filled their own back pockets , due to this we now have a small black elite class , some millionaires , some billionaires , and the masses , well they live in hope . But to respond to your comments , although undeserving of a reply , the 12-15% of SA's population that you highlight as being privleged, in fact pay ALL the taxes and have done so over the past 20 odd years and continue to do so , this allows many black people frre housing free schooling free water free electricity , social grants , the list goes on .. If you ask any race group in South Africa , including white people about who or what they want as government , the race card will not come up , most dont care if we have a black/green or pink government they just want it to work and function properly , the present government does neither . Sorry to burst your bubble matthew but your facts in your comment are extremely flawed and show your ignorance like so many others ..

    September 14, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  19. Libya

    Well Africa losing their cow. So they know that no more milk will be coming their way. that is why they clinging on to Daffy. Simple.

    September 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  20. Matthew

    @scott, I guess you have not been to a township. You must go into townships and see exactly what damage the apartheid did. It will take ANC another 400 years to remove all apartheid legacy. Yes we have moved on but we will never forget because the legacy is everywhere in townships. If you were to ask majority of people of colour in SA they will tell you that they are more than happy with ANC as it affords them the right to human dignity (which is foreign to the afrikaner) their lives have improved for better under the ANC rule. Stop making yourself some brainless racist afrikaner and join in helping shape the future of SA. Continue to enjoy the apartheid "LOOTS" which is estimated to be around 300bn USD. Be part of solution or ship out we dont need negative and racist person in SA

    September 15, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  21. ZahirulHoque23

    Libya and Horrific Massacre
    No body should underestimate the power of Libyan people and their concerns. The western killer power is deliberately helping another band of killers and they altogether killed thousands of people around the country and in Tripoli. Now these killer elements ser-ed notice to the people of Bani Walid to lea-e Bani Walid and from differents sources it appears that the wes is continuing bombing in Sirte. It means the life of the Third World to the west is cheaper than any thing in the world. Today or tommorow Libyan people will stand up against this horrific genocide and massacre in their own country. The false notion of western demecracy AND HUMAN RIGHTS are just a slogan for justification their notorious mission to kill patriotic land authentic eaders in many those many countries. The y killed millions and million s of peopleduring their collonial era in the TW countries. The y killed thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now they are killing thousands of people in Libya. No one this there to tell the truth to world and the Libyan people. Western media along with some Arab media ha-e completely banished themsel-es from that site. The same crime they are doing like what their leaders are doing.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  22. MartynA1

    Why should there be an interim government in Libya? Gaddaffi supported the ANC in their struggle and even though he is a DICTATOR they feel the need to contribute their 5 cents worth to a peace settlement in Libya. History has shown unequivocally that having a two party system does not work, look at Zimbabwe- it's still a basket case run by a DICTATOR as well and Gaddafi is still a dictator whose moral values are anything but exemplary- would he share power, I think not.
    The S African government should just keep their mouths shut, supporting a authoritarian government shows their true colours.

    September 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  23. Oweka

    South Africa is tying to medle into Libya's affairs. Its the Libyans to determine what composition/representations they need in forming their goverment. Why should an individual or a party mess up a state and still be included in the next goverment that has removed them? All African dictators are pushing for that........destroy a state and expects to have a say in the next goverment...Why? Once you get removed from power, please go for good. otherwise, you provoke bad memories of your regieme.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  24. kailash from Nepal

    Tha article itself is bias. Because if some one want to be journalist she / he has to neutarl and logical argument and balace propectives. Ok fine Gadhhafi was dictator he should be abolished , but NATO bombinig is also sould accounted as misutilised of power for the vested intrest. CNN AS WE UNDERSTAND from outside world is independent news service, but in this episode i examine you people are not showing side of Gaddafi loyalist grievances. The lybyan if they want to choose gaddafi fine why UK and France wants to enforce their so called democracy. Just emagine how many people got killed by NATO bombing. If western power wants real peace in Libiya the most stop bombing first and start negotiating to ovrthrow Gaddhafi. I fully agree with South Africa balance interpretation. History will definately proves this stance.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  25. Worsie

    The South African government wants all it inclusive in Lybia but at home they systematically marginalize white people from state and economic participation through BEE legislation and Affirmative Action. In fact, this week pres. Zuma said they want to be even stricter on enforcing that legislation! This is just another ploy from the fascist ANC government to divert international attention away from their own power hoarding ambitions.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  26. Lawrence Purity

    mere looking at Zuma, he may be the next autocracy in Africa, that's how he was supporting Gbagbo of Ivory coast, when Nigeria and ecowas want Gbagbo out, HE {Zuma} donate warship in support of Gbagbo. even ecowas is more stronger than AU, AU should be dissolved, they are bunch of autocratic leaders, Somalia is still finding despite the presence of AU in Africa. if not with the intervention of Nigeria in west Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leon and even Ivory coast could have been killing themselves in their various countries. DISSOLVE AU! DISSOLVE AU!! DISSOLVE AU!!! its a weak organisation

    September 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  27. Nnamdi Anyanwu

    When u try an idea and is not working u take a walk from it and try another. I think is time for SA to move away from "Govt of National Unity" to a "Govt of National Acceptance".We don't want to keep die-hard leaders who wants to remain in power at all costs-even if it means killing people. The Libyans are tired of Gadafi and in need of freedom which i believe no one-AU,NATO or SA- at this stage will stop them from getting it.AU & SA should admit the mistake of trying to keep Gadafi in power by their "GNU" proposal and accept the wishes of majority of Libyans.Fessing up will expedites the recovery process in Libya.I know, while it's tempting to shirk responsibility or slink away, it only makes matters worse.They (SA & AU) should move ahead with the realities on ground and follow the footsteps of Nigeria in fostering a lasting solution-a govt that will be widely acceptable to all Libyans. SA,should go ahead and mettle down on their stand if they really want to show a leadership direction in Africa! After all, nobody wants leaders who take themselves too seriously. SA should join NATO, Nigeria and the good people of Libya to reframe the discussion. We don't want to talk about the mistake "GNU" forever.Lets give the blunder its due, but refocus the conversation on what matters most: moving Libya forward!!!

    September 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  28. majindi

    SA is unwise it should have seen it coming but preferred to ignore it, they want to use one method to solve all political problems that take place in the world GNU that may not work coz from the word go Libya crisis involved guns and unfortunately people carrying guns have no tym to sit and discuss power sharing options that leave very severe long term consequences like in Kenya and Zimbabwe. President Zuma showed some level of slowness in sticking with other dictators of the African continent who wanted to stand by Caddaffi despite the fact that this leader was no longer popular with his own people i think Zuma should be careful with tht as it may cost him in their incomming elections just like Mbeki on Zimbabwe

    September 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  29. Alfred Rosenberg

    With human right violations being committed in South Africa (Farmer Genocide) and the recent well publicized 'Shoot the Boer' (Kill the Farmer) propoganda pushed by the ruling party it just shows South Africa is the last country to make demands.

    September 19, 2011 at 10:11 am |

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