What about the Libyans?

2011-08-27 17:28

Following an open letter by author Wally Serote and other African leaders condemning Nato’s military intervention, <strong>Mandy Rossouw</strong> quizzed him

What about the people of Libya who were getting killed by Gaddafi?
We can’t justify the position Gaddafi took, we have to admit Gaddafi was already doing that. But we can’t support the rebels’ actions either, and there are now two sides in Libya and it will take a very long time to recover. The sooner the intervention (to start negotiations) the better.

The African Union did not act while Gaddafi was killing his own people. Why did you have faith that the negotiations were going to work?
A week before Nato intervened, the AU pronounced on the matter and put together a group of emissaries to go to Libya.

They were disrupted by the bombings and never made it to Libya. So they were never really given a chance.

But does the track record of the African Union to fix problems inspire confidence?
We have to accept that the situation in Africa leaves us with a set of complex challenges. But if you look at how the AU has moved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan and Zimbabwe, there is a resolution towards peace and freedom for the African people.

In a sense, they’ve been able to bring about peace and freedom.

Democracy is now cherished and human rights are respected because there is a consciousness developing. This did not fall from heaven, there were concerted efforts from the AU. There are differences that divide the AU, but we must be given
a chance for self-determination.

Was the AU not compromised in the Libya situation because it depended heavily on Gad dafi for funding?
Some people may have been compromised by that, but ­Gaddafi has not managed to change the quality or the context of the AU.

But France, the United States and Britain are being opportunistic, they supported Gaddafi before the problems in Libya started.

Gaddafi invested $68 billion in various countries – 19% of that was invested in America, 60% in Britain.

Where is that money at the moment? They kept Gaddafi in power while South Africa was actually at loggerheads with him about who to unite Africa.

We wanted regional integration while ­Gaddafi wanted to be president of Africa.

Why do you think negotiations would have worked?

We must accept that there are people who support him, whether we like it or not.

There was a party led by Gaddafi and now that party needs to decide who will ­represent them.

Any agreement between the different parties in Libya would stand in the centre because everyone would have bought into it.

Should South Africa have supported Resolution 1973 that authorised the Nato intervention?
There was nothing wrong with the resolution, it was how it was interpreted (that was wrong).

It said that all means should be used to ensure civilians were not killed. With hindsight, there should have been a discussion at the UN about what exactly the resolution means and how it should be interpreted.
In your view, what would be the interest of countries like Britain, the US and France to attempt to “recolonise”
Africa starting with Libya?

You will see that with most of the oil countries, these three take an interest.

Now with Libya they want a footing on the African continent. We know that they are active in other countries like the DRC and the Ivory Coast.

The US wants to colonise Africa for the interest of the American people, but they do it at the expense of other people. They did it in Iraq and Afghanistan, (so) why should we believe that anything has changed?

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