We won't turn our back on Gaddafi - Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
21 February 2011

Speech by the then president on SA's friendship with the Libyan Leader, June 13 1999



Your Excellencies
Distinguished Guests
And My Dear Brother Leader

Those who dedicate themselves to causes affecting the lives of millions ought to have a clear understanding of history. They should plan their actions with a sense of their impact on those for whom they believe they act.

I know, My Brother Leader, that you and I, who have both been privileged and obliged by circumstance to be in such positions, have each in our own way tried to be true to that responsibility. Even so, we could not have planned things in such a way that you would be the last head of state I would officially receive on a bilateral basis before retiring from public office.

I am happy that it did, by chance, transpire this way.

The relationship between our two selves and between Libya and democratic South Africa has not been without controversy and therefore some special significance in world affairs.

As a responsible member of the international community of nations, South Africa would never defy predominant international opinion deliberately and merely for effect. This is a particular responsibility in a world that is fraught with possibilities of misunderstanding and consequent conflict and conflagration.

We remain convinced that respect for our multilateral bodies and compliance with their decisions, is crucial to stability, development and progress in a world still marked by tension, inequality and backwardness. This is so even where we may disagree as individual nations with those decisions.

In a world where the strong may seek to impose upon the more vulnerable; and where particular nations or groups of nations may still seek to decide the fate of the planet - in such a world respect for multilateralism, moderation of public discourse and a patient search for compromise become even more imperative to save the world from debilitating conflict and enduring inequality.

When we dismissed criticism of our friendship with yourself, My Brother Leader, and of the relationship between South Africa and Libya, it was precisely in defence of those values.

There must be a kernel of morality also to international behaviour. Of course, nations must place their own interests high on the list of considerations informing their international relations. But the amorality which decrees that might is right can not be the basis on which the world conducts itself in the next century.

It was pure expediency to call on democratic South Africa to turn its back on Libya and Qaddafi, who had assisted us in obtaining democracy at a time when those who now made that call were the friends of the enemies of democracy in South Africa.

Had we heeded those demands, we would have betrayed the very values and attitudes that allowed us as a nation to have adversaries sitting down and negotiating in a spirit of compromise. It would have meant denying that the South African experience could be a model and example for international behaviour.

In many ways, our modest contribution to resolving the Lockerbie issue will remain a highlight of the international aspects of our Presidency. No one can deny that the friendship and trust between South Africa and Libya played a significant part in arriving at this solution. If that be so, it vindicates our view that talking to one another and searching for peaceful solutions remain the surest way to resolve differences and advance peace and progress in the world.

We look forward with joy and anticipation to the full re-entry of Libya into the affairs of our continent and the world.

We have already seen Libya take up its role as an important actor on the African continent to help advance the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

South Africa is proud to acknowledge the coincidence between its own position and SADC's, on the one hand, and that of Libya on the other. We share the view that peace in the DRC can only be achieved through the withdrawal of all foreign forces and an inclusive political process of Congolese groups.

We appreciate very much Libya's indication that its own efforts will be co-ordinated with those of our regional organisation, SADC. This approach confounds those who suggest that Libya is less than fully committed to multilateralism. My Brother Leader is involved in the Congolese process as a facilitator of the SADC process, just as we were involved in the Lockerbie issue as facilitators for the United Nations. In such ways we advance the ideals of multilateral co-operation and discipline. And for that we thank our Brother Leader and the Libyan people.

It was with much appreciation that I received reports from my Minister of Trade and Industry about our recent trade delegation to Libya. The friendly political relations between our two countries are now being consolidated and deepened through trade. We look forward to South African companies and Libyan entities bridging our continent from North to South in concrete expressions of African unity.

My Brother Leader, I know that in the abstemious conditions of the North African desert it is not the custom to propose a toast. We are, however, overwhelmed by at last having here on this southern tip of Africa one of the revolutionary icons of our times.

I shall therefore take the liberty to invite our guests to rise and raise their glasses with me in salute to Muamar Qaddafi, our Brother Leader of the Revolution of the Libyan Jamahariya, and to growing friendship between the people of our two countries.

Issued by the Office of the President, June 13 1999

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Mandela made a high-profile visit to Libya in 1997 when he presented the colonel with South Africa's highest award, the Order of Good Hope.... Indonesia's then President Suharto was another recipient of the Order of Good Hope. Mandela visited Indonesia the year after his release from prison. He declined to speak publicly in favour of hundreds of political prisoners or criticise the repression in East Timor. He told reporters not to ask Suharto any difficult questions. Years later, Mandela's administration abstained from a United Nations vote condemning Indonesia's occupation of East Timor.... Along the way, Mandela has scooped up hundreds of millions of dollars for ANC coffers from his dubious hosts. He has praised President Suharto for his 'generous financial assistance' to the ANC. Mandela's office refused to say exactly how generous the former Indonesian leader was but President Mahathir Mohamed of Malaysia and Saudi Arabia's King Fahd each stumped up $ 50m. In May, the Chinese gave Mandela a fat cheque toward helping get Thabo Mbeki elected. Gadafy has long been generous. He even paid the cost of Winnie Mandela's defence in her kidnapping trial."
Chris McGreal, The Guardian, June 17 1999


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 responses to this article

Aaah my brother-leader...

Aaah, guilty by association.

The Black Sash Ladies and SAcan Liberals love and loved Nelson Mandela unconditionally.

Nelson Mandela calls Mohammar his "brother-leader" and must therefor love him as a brother (after all, he . .more

by JVR on February 22 2011, 00:08
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Aaah my brother-leader...

Nelson Mandela calls Mohammar his "brother-leader" and must therefor love him as a brother (after all, he bestowed SAca;s highest honour, the Order of Good Hope, on Mohammar, whose men are now killings their own people in the streets of . .more

by JVR on February 22 2011, 00:12
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by anonymous on February 22 2011, 04:11
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by anonymous on February 22 2011, 07:45
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by anonymous on February 22 2011, 08:41
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by anonymous on February 22 2011, 11:39
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by anonymous on February 22 2011, 12:42
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Selective flashbacks...
Why do you have to bring up the past. I could regale you with a lot of apartheid facts

by Free burger on February 22 2011, 13:17
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All flashbacks welcome
@Free burger

Guilty conscience or something similar? Why do you assume I won't enjoy to be reminded of other people's - and not only Mandela's - idiocies too?

by Vryburger on February 22 2011, 14:11
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Gaddafi was a dictator in 1969 and he is the same name now(He was also the same in 1999). Castro (and his brother) was a dictator when he took over power from Babtista and they are the same now.Mugabe was also a "democrat". Mugabe will soon die and a . .more

by Republican on February 22 2011, 15:09
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George W Bush
Where is George when you realy need him. number 43 would have done something.about Gaddafi. Where is obama?. Conservative, "neocons" and right libertarians know how to sort out dictators. Liberals are to "soft". Conservatives and brought the Soviet Union . .more

by Republican on February 22 2011, 15:40
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Mandela and Gedaffi

After having read Gedaffi Wiki who orchestrated a bloodless coup d'etat in Libya and professed it a socialist country for the people etc. A colourful character with amazingly confusing type of benevolent characteristics in a diverse adverse world, . .more

by DM on February 22 2011, 19:55
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"...whose men are now killings their own people in the streets..."
Just like the boere did in the days of apartheid.

by Jeff on February 22 2011, 20:16
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"The DA loved the ANC" and the Nats loved the Nats.
Actually the DA loved democracy, and they may have been naive in falling for some ANC treachery. However that's a damn sight better than being a fascist and living in some utopian past for boere.

by Jeff on February 22 2011, 20:20
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Stupid Jeff
You must be refering to sharpeville and Soweto. Live amminition was used and although 60 people died it happened against a background where previously policestations were stormed. Whatever the reasons for the police shootings it was uncalled for. So was . .more

by Republican on February 22 2011, 20:45
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Democracy in Africa doesnt mean the same democracy as in the west. In Zimbabwe Smith had to make way for Mugabe the Marxist. A socalled 'democrat". Liberals seem to "naively" underestimate the ways of Arica and also Southern Africa. Swaziland is also a . .more

by Republican on February 22 2011, 21:05
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Considering Politicsweb was not accessible for the best part of the day, and that after a number of attempts to aire comments the efforts of "anonymous", seem to be deleted. Why too close for comfort?

by Opem Minded on February 23 2011, 17:48
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Will the ANC stand by Gaddafi at the UN and the AU, give him refugee status?

Now will the ANC, who bestowed the Order of Good Hope, SA's highest Civilian Honour (this is like being Knighted by the Queen in AngloLand), on Colonel Qaddafi, stand by their man?

Will the ANC come out openly, at the UN or at the African . .more

by JVR on February 23 2011, 20:32
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Gaddafi's friends and associates
Good riddance to this evil man...what you sow you will reap and if you live by the sword then...enough said.
Those who fraternised with him are now shown their true alliances and colours. I used to admire Madiba but when I saw him embrace that evil . .more

by Inyati on October 22 2011, 10:00
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A sad day in Libia. The only thing that was killing Libia's civilians was N.A.T.O.

by minus-006 on October 25 2011, 13:10
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