PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has lashed out at continental powerhouses South Africa and Nigeria for being complicit in the death of his slain ally, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, five years after the event.
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI/ XOLISANI NCUBE
It is not the first time that Mugabe has chided South Africa in particular for voting with Western countries on the controversial United Nations resolution that gave the United States and its allies the mandate to bomb Libya in support of rebels who were fighting Gaddafi.
Officially opening the 67th regional conference of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Africa, Mugabe said he had been approached to help warring factions in Libya without revealing the group.
“Libyans now are fighting, killing each other. Some have approached us seeking for help. They are disunited,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe, whose human rights record has earned his administration pariah status, said although Gaddafi was a dictator, his removal from power was unjustified as it had left Libya in turmoil.
“Gaddafi killed many people, innocent persons and those who opposed his rule and did it callously even to kill his people, innocent people. He united his people, fought for free education, free health . . . he tried to hide, tried to plead, but they attacked him,” the Zanu PF leader told his shocked audience.
Gaddafi was killed in 2012 during a wave of protests that engulfed the Middle East with people demanding leadership change.
Mugabe took delegates drawn from 47 African countries into a monologue on how “powerful States” such as the US and Britain had exploited and removed leaders who they did not want for selfish gains.
With Nigeria struggling to put down the Boko Haram insurrection, Mugabe slammed the West African country for failing to secure its borders despite its “grand status” as the continent’s biggest economy.
“With the high, great and grand status they have given to themselves, we were shocked that over 200 students disappeared.
“I still ask myself a question: Surely a big country like Nigeria which has a big army cannot tell us or fail to locate or trace these girls? Nobody has taken the task to locate them or nobody knows where they have gone. The mothers are still mourning and the fathers as well,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe last week attacked South Africa’s first black president and revered anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela for allowing “whites so much power”.
The Zimbabwean leader said the election of an African, Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghenbreyesus, as WHO director-general should help the continent’s women and children in their fight against diseases.
Ghenbreyesus, who was elected two months ago, said he hoped to curb communicable and non-communicable diseases ravaging Africa.
Mugabe has again criticised former president Nelson Mandela.
The 93-year-old leader is not letting go of the matter of Mandela and land redistribution in South Africa.
Speaking at a funeral in Harare, he said Mandela made too many concessions towards the white minority.
“I asked one of the ANC ministers, how come whites have been left with so much power and he said it was because of your friend Mandela, he is the one who made mistakes,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe said Mandela insisted going alone to negotiate with the apartheid government.
“He said to everyone, ‘Go back and I will go alone.’ Yes, he might have been a lawyer but support was needed.”
Mugabe’s wife, Grace, appeared in public for the first time since theincident at a Johannesburg hotel where she was accused of beating up a young South African woman, Gabriella Engels.
Zimbabwe’s first lady toured the Harare Agricultural show and also attended the struggle heroes’ funeral.
She did not comment on the incident in Johannesburg or the South African government granting her diplomatic immunity.
The Zimbabwe government has also not commented.