SA gets tough on Zim

Brendan Boyle

SOUTH Africa put the squeeze on Libya and Zimbabwe yesterday, but avoided naming either of Africa’s most reviled leaders.

Deputy International Relations Minister Marius Fransman put Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe on notice that South Africa would not allow him to hold an election until he had met outstanding conditions of the power-sharing agreement, including the adoption of a new constitution.

And he said South Africa stood four square behind the UN Security Council’s vote on Saturday to refer Muammar Gaddafi’s regime to the International Criminal Court.

“This resolution sends a clear and unambiguous message to the Libyan authorities to end the carnage against its people,” he said.

Fransman did not mention Mugabe by name and referred to Gaddafi only after almost an hour of questioning by reporters on South Africa’s stance on the man many leaders have told to quit.

“From various sectors, we have seen violence erupting and we are saying wherever that comes from . it is wrong for innocent people to be killed. If the argument is that it is Gaddafi himself, then the statement stands,” he said.

Fransman denied Gaddafi’s long-standing financial support for the ANC and some of its leaders was behind the government’s reluctance to name him as other nations have since he began killing his own people to stay in power.

“The South African government is not affected by relations that [political] parties would necessarily have with individuals.

“We are dealing with the Libyan people and the Libyan authorities and our position is very clear that in the context of Libya we condemn any acts by the authority, those in authority, whoever the individuals may be,” he said.

Fransman spoke as President Jacob Zuma headed for France, where the media reported yesterday President Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to press for a louder South African voice on Libya, the Ivory Coast and possibly Zimbabwe. South Africa, which holds a temporary UN Security Council seat, joined Saturday’s unanimous council vote to condemn Gaddafi.

Baso Sangqu, South Africa’s ambassador to the UN, did not name Gaddafi in his statement to the council, referring only to “the Libyan authorities”.

The government softened its stance on the Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara, the opposition leader who won last November’s presidential poll against Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to leave office. The Department of International Relations recently called the election “inconclusive”.

South Africa has been at odds with many Western governments over Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe is preparing to run for election again soon. Fransman appeared to signal a firmer position.

Armoured cars and riot control vehicles have been on Harare’s streets since Saturday in a show of force political analysts link to escalating calls on social media such as Twitter and Facebook for protests against Mugabe’s rule.

Fransman said Zimbabwe remained polarised by disputes over the attorney-general, the central bank governor, provincial governors and the swearing in of opposition MP Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister.

He also referred to reports that Mugabe is preparing to hold elections in violation of the terms of the global political agreement.

“The South African position and that of SADC is to ensure that the next elections as envisaged in the GPA are held under a new constitution that would have been the product of the constitution-making process supported by the Zimbabwean electorate through a referendum,” he said. “In this regard, any calls for elections without the finalisation of the constitution-making process are in breach of the GPA as well as the Constitution .. . which gives legitimacy to the inclusive government.” 

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