PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe says South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon were “naive” to vote for a United Nations Security Council resolution which has been used by Western countries to carry out a sustained bombardment of Libya.
“Our African countries were naïve, absolutely naïve, to vote with the West when the West had its interests, you know, its own motives ... ulterior motives,” Mugabe said in an interview published on Friday.
“These motives include wanting to re-occupy our countries. They are in search of our resources, in search of political control. It's now the reversal of the freedoms that we attained through various struggles, in some cases political but in others armed struggles.”
The three countries, which currently occupy Africa’s three allocated rotating seats on the 15-nation Security Council, voted for UN Resolution 1973 authorising the use of “all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.
The resolution’s promoters -- the United States of America, Britain and France -- sought authorisation to maintain a “no-fly-zone” over Libya to curtail Gaddafi’s ability to clamp down on a rebellion to the east of the country.
Brazil, China, Germany, India and Russian abstained, while the African bloc voted in favour along with Portugal, Colombia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Britain, the United States and Lebanon.
“We should by now have been very much aware that these aggressors and colonisers of yesterday had not repented, relented on their past ways of relating to us, and that they were still enemies,” Mugabe told the state-run Southern Times newspaper.
“Once an enemy, once an imperialist, always an imperialist. Is it not [Kwame] Nkrumah who said an imperialist is never a good friend? He's only good when he is dead -- the only good imperialist is a dead one.”
Mugabe claimed there was a strong hand of external interference in uprisings witnessed in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
“We are seeing that achievement, that status of liberating Africa, now being reversed by the same people who colonised us yesterday, our erstwhile colonisers. They are coming back now using our own people and presenting to the world that it is we, the Africans, who would want to see change, when in fact they are using that pretence as a way of paving entry back into Africa, perhaps entry in search of resources -- oil or other forms of wealth.”
South African President Jacob Zuma has faced criticism at home – notably from his ruling ANC party’s Youth League which said he had failed to notice the “inconsistencies being applied to Libya” in voting for the resolution.
Belatedly, Zuma said “operations aimed at enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians should be limited to just that”, adding: “They should not harm or endanger the civilians that Resolution 1973 sought to protect.”
Mugabe is critical of the African Union’s inability to take a united stand on Libya and force the reconvening of the Security Council to relook into the scope of the resolution.
He said: “It [African Union] should have at least protested by now, protested vigorously and caused the United Nations to have an emergency session ... But I understand that the exercise to get countries to meet has not succeeded.
“Our African countries don't seem to want to meet and discuss this vital issue on the absolutely devastating events that are happening to the north of us, and which require our immediate attention. Not all of us seem to be moved by them; or perhaps some of us support them? And, if we are in this state of silence, naturally the world will say we are expressing happiness with what is taking place.”
With France, Britain and the United States now seemingly set on toppling Gaddafi, the International Criminal Court has appeared on the scene seeking his arrest for crimes against humanity over his forces’ violent clampdown on the rebellion.
But Mugabe insists the ICC is now a weapon being used by Western countries against weaker African nations who defy external interference in their domestic affairs.
“This court seems to have been established for Africans. Though we have seen Europeans commit crimes of far greater magnitude than you can ever imagine, it's just the African leaders they are going for, or should I say leaders from the Third World, since they have also been trying leaders from lesser Europe, lesser European countries and so on,” Mugabe said.
“We have seen greater offences committed by the likes of [George] Bush and [Tony] Blair when they attacked Iraq illegally and they used false reasons for that attack. They knew that the excuse they were proffering [weapons of mass destruction] was meant to use their troops as a way of entering Iraq and committing aggression, and Saddam [Hussein] is gone, and with him the oil too is gone.
“They are still at it, they said they were doing it to bring peace, to bring democracy. Where is the democracy? There is still lots of fighting going on in Iraq up to today. But anyway, the issue is who will ever try Blair and Bush? They are scot-free after committing that very serious act of aggression -- a criminal act of aggression.”
Mugabe admitted Gaddafi’s Libyan administration was “not a democratic system” but added: “We all recognised it. We recognised also that given time, there would be change in Libya as there has been change in other African countries. That's why his country was a legit member of the African Union.
“But there they are, again using false pretences to attack. And, who are in the forefront? It's France, led by Sarkozy; Italy led by Berlusconi; and Cameron of Britain. Sarkozy is the leader of the Three Musketeers. They are supposed, according to the Security Council resolution based on Chapter 7, to police the Libyan air zone and ensure that Libya does not use its aircraft to cause deaths of civilians.
“But what we are seeing now is that in fact through their bombings, more civilians are dying than those who would have died if Libya had been left to defend itself against the rebellion, the rebellious group that had risen around Benghazi.
“We know now, it is very clear that the motive is to overthrow the Libyan government, overthrow Gaddafi and have a free opportunity to enter Libya and of course, share the resources that they so direly need in Europe.”