‘NEPAD a Project for Former Colonisers, Racists’

The Herald (Harare), 18 June 2002

Libyan leader Colonel Maummar Gaddafi this week launched an extraordinary attack on the African recovery plan initiated by South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo.

According to South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper, Colonel Gaddafi said the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) was a project of the former colonisers and racists. He was speaking at a welcoming reception for President Mbeki, who was on a state visit to Libya.

But Reuters reported yesterday that South Africa dismissed media reports that the Libyan leader slammed the ambitious African recovery plan during talks between the two leaders last week.

Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo said Col Gaddafi had supported both the economic recovery initiative and the launch in South Africa next month of the African Union (AU), which will replace the moribund Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Nepad will be adopted as the economic policy of the AU.

Reports that Gaddafi attacked Nepad are incorrect. He did say that more work must be done to sell Nepad and the AU to our own domestic audiences and to governments across the continent and we think that criticism has merit, Khumalo told Reuters.

Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo are due to present Nepad to the G8 summit in Canada later this month, where they will solicit Western backing. It is estimated that US$64-billion (about R646-billion) in investment and aid will be needed to drive Nepad.

The Sunday Times reported that Col Gaddafi said Africa would not be tricked easily by Western powers. They are now offering us projects which they are saying are beneficial to both us (the First World and African countries). We don't reject it. But whether it is Omega (the Senegalese initiative merged into Nepad), MAP (The Millennium Africa Programme), New African initiative or Nepad, we will see if we will support it, Col Gaddafi said. The time has passed for creating stooges, he said. The Libyan leader, however, pledged his support for the launch of the African Union in Durban in July under President Mbeki's chairmanship.

In an interview at the end of his visit, Mr Mbeki told the South African paper that Col Gaddafi had told him that there was not sufficient understanding on the African continent about Nepad and the AU. His own feeling is that more work needs to be done to explain the Nepad process.

He felt we need to generate better understanding of both Nepad and the AU and I agree with that. Perhaps the process moved too fast for some people, Mr Mbeki said. Mr Mbeki said his visit to Libya would not negatively impact on his bid for investment in Nepad when he addresses the G8 in Canada.