U still has role in Libya, says Zuma

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cape Town - The African Union still has an important role to play in Libya, President Jacob Zuma said today, adding that UN Security Council resolution 1973 had been "abused to further means other than to protect civilians."

"Those who have a lot of capacity to bomb other countries really undermined the AU's initiatives and effort to deal with the matter in Libya," he said.

Speaking during the signing of two memoranda of agreement at Tuynhuis between South Africa and a Ghanaian delegation led by the President of Ghana, John Atta Mills, Zuma said a lot of lives could have been saved had the bombings been averted.

Ahead of an AU meeting in Addis Ababa on Thursday and Friday, in which a high-level committee is expected to discuss the situation in Libya, Zuma said he stood by the AU roadmap on Libya.

"We believe that the AU position has been the most logical one, the most important and we believe that it still has a role at the moment, because at the heart of it, it says that the Libyan people must be given the chance to meet and decide their own destiny," he said.

Zuma said the AU wanted to see Libya emerge as a democratic country with a constitution crafted by the Libyan people.

Mills said his country is studying the situation in Libya and would take a decision soon on what position to take, adding that if Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi should approach the country for asylum, Ghana would take such an application "on its own merits."

Mills also echoed Zuma's statements that any decision on Libya would be made in the interests of the Libyan people.

"We do not, and never have said that any country belongs to any one individual, it belongs to the people," said Mills.

Earlier, Ghana and South Africa signed memoranda of co-operation in tourism as well as in economic and technical co-operation.

Two further memoranda - in home affairs and energy - are expected to be signed later today.

In recent years, trade between Ghana and SA - with SA exports having trebled in 10 years - grew from R1 billion in 1998 to over R3 billion in 2008.

Zuma said there were more than 80 SA companies registered in Ghana and operating in sectors such as mining, retail, insurance, transport, tourism, telecommunication, banking and energy, among others.

He said new opportunities outlined included tourism, communication and technology, mining and agriculture and infrastructure development.

The two countries were also widening co-operation on science and technology and were presently working together on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project with a number of other African countries, he said.

Zuma said the project would lead to improved information and communication technologies for all Africans and improve economic performance.

"We are all working hard to ensure that Africa is the winner when the bid is announced early next year," he said.

Zuma and Mills had also discussed the need to transform the UN Security Council and international finance organisations to better reflect the increasingly important role of Africa and the developing world.

Zuma thanked Ghana for the support it had given South Africa during the struggle and said Ghana had a "special place" in the history of the African continent, particularly as its first president, Kwame Nkrumah, had helped inspire other African countries as the continent shed the yoke of colonialism.

Mills, who was last in SA in 2010, thanked Zuma for inviting him to South Africa and praised the country for making Africa proud of its successful hosting of last year's World Cup.

"Not only was the organisation of that tournament a credit to Africa for the excellent work done by South Africa, but South Africans displayed something that was rather unique, especially in a football match against the United States.

"Almost to a man, South Africans stood behind the Black Stars and cheered us on to victory. This support for the Black Stars is clear evidence of the strong relation that has always existed between South Africa and Ghana," he said.

He said struggle stalwarts like Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu had been "household names" in Ghana during apartheid.

"SA has a lot to offer us, and I believe we also have something to offer South Africa."

Mills welcomed South African businesses to come to invest in Ghana, adding that he was also encouraging Ghanaian companies to invest in SA, and had been accompanied by a group of business people on his visit here.

Most Read

SA News on Facebook