What has Zuma to gain from rescuing Gaddafi?
by Rampholo Molefhe
It is Muammar Gaddafi’s legacy, after 42 years of uninterrupted rule that he fought a desert war for the freedom of the Libyans from feudal tyranny. He was credited, for the first ten to 20 years of his administration with mobilising the wealth the country gained from the exploitation of oil into the transformation of the educational, housing and agricultural infrastructure of Libya for the benefit of the broader population of his countrymen.
His ‘Little Green Book’, like Kim Il Sung’s ‘Juche Idea’ in Eastern inclined North Korea, attempted an integration of the socialist principles announced in Mao Tse Tung’s ‘Little Red Book’ with Libya’s Islamic historical background.
Rather than adopt the western adversarial system of ‘multi-party’ democracy, he proclaimed the Jamahiriya and set up what is now referred to as ‘peoples committees’ possibly inspired by the Moscow model of ‘soviets’ with him at head, ruling through a council of people’s deputies, if you wish.
It was the going theory among the Africanists, who missed Kwame Nkrumah’s main propositions in his advocacy for Pea Africanism – that the Africans should reject western democracy, which was in any case the political model of the colonialists, and opt for an ‘African’ type based on the Kgotla system.
The supreme leader would be King, ruling through tribal elders who would report to the Kgotla, also fetching advice for the central committee based in Tripoli. The King of All Kings, like the Great Cock, Mobutu Sese Seko, of the Congo, would open the national radio or television station in the morning as the national anthem blared in the background.
The Cock would then tour the hinterlands on the back of a covered land rover in full army regalia, waving at the subjects as he headed for the party headquarters which were invariably housed near or inside a luxurious hotel, followed by a coterie of sycophants who posed as heads of the civil service.
It was understood that the serfs would gather at the Kgotla to see the King of Kings in the flesh, and to reward him with their only chickens and goats which he would enjoy with them at the fireside after they were duly cooked to standard by the chief chef brought along with the presidential entourage from Tripoli, Gaborone or Lusaka.
The chef, of course, travelled as part of the National Guard that looks after the safety of the country and the Great Cock.
This business progresses from a presidential tour, to custom, to tradition until, after 42 years, it becomes a national ritual at which the King of Kings arrives at Kgotla to listen to the village gossip about the performance of the tribal or provincial leaders. The Great Leader, points out the ministers and civil servants who will put things right when he returns to Tripoli, having also handed out a gift or two to the lowliest of the poor in each strategic village.
Soon, a culture develops where the well-being of the nation is identical with that of the Great Leader and the King of Kings seeks deification on earth, demonstrating his powers by extending generous assistance to poor nations like The Sudan, at the same time providing the budget for the Organisation of African Unity, AU, OPEC and others.
Generally, this ‘post- independence cycle’ takes a good 20 to 40 years depending on the temperament of the plebeians, the leaders slowly but surely deteriorating from liberators to dictators. In kinder historical circumstances, the evolution from freedom fighter to power monger is veiled under intermittent elections that do not fail to bring the same party to power until, at 40 or so years of one party rule, the tendencies towards dictatorship can no longer be contained by the artificial trappings of a pseudo democratic political dispensation. Two years is enough to release the angry demons that have been trapped in 40 years of pretence at democratic rule. Sooner rather than later, the King places the nation on his preferred diet. He builds bunkers where he can play war games, imagining himself to be under threat from naughty and unappreciative malcontents. The opposition parties, including critics inside the ruling party, are berated as infidels. The reigns are tightened and the working class is made out to the enemy of the state.
Suddenly, the streets, government offices and newspaper houses are inundated with kid cops, mercenary journalists and huge portraits of the great leader.
In an interview on France24 on Monday, Tony Blair, who lied together with George Bush about the ‘near and present danger of weapons of mass destruction’ in Sadaam Hussein’s Iraq responded: “Well, in Iraq people now have a democratically government, freedom of expression and a free press….”
He had been asked about his credibility as a spokesperson of the Group of Four European nations who want to create peace between the Israeli’s and the Jews and the Palestinians.
Further asked about his attitude towards recent events in Libya, he responded: “Well, when he does good things like denouncing Al Qaeda and atoning for his part in Lockerbie, we will commend him. But when he kills his own people we cannot but denounce him”.
Oh Mr Bliar, why don’t you tell Robert Mugabe that!
The real point is not about the credibility of Tony Blair, who need not be any more credible than he was in Iraq in order to speak for the economic interests of Britain and the other Europeans. The pliability of British foreign policy with regard to Gadhafi could only have been based on the extent to which they could access Libyan oil in particular, and Middle East energy resources whilst also maintaining a military balance in the region that favours the Jewish state of Israel.
Blair was correct in only one respect, that he recognises that the political turmoil in the Arabic countries is as a result of years of frustration by despotic rulers, many of whom are graduates of training schools in the West.
More precisely, the dilemma of the Arab leaders results from the coincidence of the economic interests of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries in the Middle East, and the political crisis resulting from the failure of the despotic leaders to deliver in education, health, jobs and food.
It appears to be that coincidence of history that has given rise to a mutual interest between the NATO countries and the plebiscites of rebel armies in ousting Gadhafi.
South Africa’s Jacob Zuma reported to parliament and the African National Congress Youth League, that his committee of African Union ambassadors was of the opinion that NATO is “abusing” the United Nations resolution that sanctioned the use of force to protect citizens from murderous leaders.
The AU position, Zuma says, is that the NATO countries invoke the UN resolution in order to effect ‘regime change’. By some weird African logic, the AU ambassadors feel duty bound to protect Muammar against the people’s uprising that has reached its limits of tolerance for hunger and joblessness despite what appears to be good levels of education, especially among the youth.
The ambassadors recommend ‘negotiation’. Between who and who? On the basis of what offer by who, and what response from who?
Look at it another way. Would Zuma’s party have preferred the situation in which the rebel detachments were weakened military, thereby enabling Gadhafi to hang on for yet another 42 years?
Does President Zuma fail to appreciate, having been a leading member of Umkhonto We Sizwe, that the military retreat of the popular forces of liberation can only make the ‘oppressor’ that much more intransigent? Why suddenly, does that military rule of thumb suddenly escape Comrade Zuma?
And now, Zuma has his blue eyed boy, Julius Malema, singing out of the same hymn book on the SABC’s ‘Morning Live’ last week. Did he say the ‘rebels’ are not revolutionaries but ‘terrorists? Something to that effect. What does he know?
Clearly, President Zuma must be blinded by the ridiculous rule of the Southern African Development Community that says that any kind of political regime is fine as long it behaves in accordance with its constitution. We are told nothing about the expected standards which should be set out for democracy by the constitution. So, because SADC can live with a dictatorship in Swaziland, so must the Libyans tolerate Gaddafi and his Little Green Book!
There is a civil war in Libya ignited by the intransigence of Muammar Gaddafi who has overstayed his turn, however glorious. It would appear that there is only one issue to negotiate – and it shall be appreciated that such negotiation was precipitated by the people’s rebellion – and that is: To which country should Gadhafi be allowed to retire? South Africa perhaps? That should be far enough from Libya.
The observation should be made, yes, that it is self- contradictory from an Africanist point of view, that what began as a Libyan people’s uprising should be appropriated by the NATO countries who are driven more by the sinister motive of destabilising the Arab countries so that they can exploit their oil, rather than the altruistic purpose of protecting the people against a tyrant.
But then the theory of contradictions does permit that the primary conflict, as things stand, is that between dictatorship and people’s power.
When that is resolved, Libya’s reformed system of governance will have acquired better tools –perhaps also a modicum of people’s democracy - to resist domination by NATO and its outpost in the Middle East, Israel.