Il colonnello visto dal Sud Africa

Res publica   07.09.11  

Lo stretto legame che lega il Sud Africa al colonnello Gheddafi raccontato dall'Atlantic.

In its lingering affection for Qaddafi, South Africa is not much different from many other sub-Saharan African states, whom Qaddafi showered with money for decades, and some of whose post-colonial revolutionary groups he helped fund. If African leaders did not respond positively to his calls for a "United States of Africa" some 10 years ago, they were at least willing to accept his financial largesse. But the case of South Africa is uniquely disappointing, given its pretensions to being the leading expositor of democracy on the continent.

Qaddafi's connections to the African National Congress, South Africa's long-dominant ruling party, go back decades, when he supported its struggle against apartheid. No less a figure than Nelson Mandela has been the Libyan dictator's most respectable booster. In 1990, fresh out of prison, Mandela paid one of his first visits to Libya, where he was the inaugural recipient of the oddly named "Al-Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights." In 1997, Mandela paid Qaddafi back in kind, awarding him South Africa's prestigious Order of Good Hope. "Those who feel we should have no relations with Qaddafi have no morals," Mandela declared. "Those who feel irritated by our friendship with President Qaddafi can go jump in the pool."

The roots of the ANC's comradeship with Qaddafi are not just ideological, but pecuniary as well. When Mandela's ex-wife Winnie was on trial for the assault and kidnapping of suspected South African government informants (one of whom was killed by her bodyguards), Qaddafi helped pay for her legal defense. The final report of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission later found Winnie "politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights." Qaddafi is also rumored to have given $2 million to Zuma to pay legal fees incurred during his 2006 rape trial.

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