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Friday, 31 December 2010

WIKILEAKS: SWAZI GADDAFI GAFFE

Swaziland’s top foreign affairs civil servant has criticised the leadership style of Col Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, the man King Mswati III wants to help save his kingdom’s ailing economy.

Clifford Mamba, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, suggested Gaddafi’s style was chaotic and autocratic.

Mamba’s comments are contained in a diplomatic cable, marked ‘secret’, written in April 2009 by Maurice Parker, the then US Ambassador to Swaziland, and published on the Wikileaks website.

Mamba is said to have criticised Gaddafi’s time as Chair of the African Union (AU). Mamba reportedly said Gaddafi had ‘put the AU secretariat into chaos, by-passing all protocol and the institutional framework’ during his time in charge. Gaddafi was Chair of the AU for one year until January 2010.

Mamba also criticised Gaddafi’s call for the creation of a ‘United States of Africa’. He said, ‘Moving one country in one direction is hard enough, much less moving 48 countries.’

Mamba was also less than flattering when he received a diplomatic note saying that Gadaffi had given himself a new title, ‘King of Culture’. He is said to have reacted with ‘amusement’ at the news.

Mamba’s comments about Gaddafi won’t please King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, who has been sucking up to Libya for years, trying to get business and economic aid for Swaziland.

Relations between Gaddafi and the king were previously said to be warm. In 2009 Gaddafi sent the king six camels as a token of friendship.

Both King Mswati and Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, have visited Libya in attempts to drum up business and aid from Gadaffi. Dlamini was in Libya as recently as last month (November 2010).

But, the Libyan leader’s money does not come without strings attached. A West African diplomat who refused to have his name or that of his country published told the Independent newspaper in the UK, ‘We made a deal with Libya whereby we would support and vote for all resolutions proposed by Mr Gaddafi at [AU] summits in exchange for his help.’

How much Gadaffi’s support has cost Swaziland is not known. When his year as AU Chair was up, Gaddafi tried without success to have his term extended, but could not get the support of enough African nations. It would be interesting to know what position Swaziland took to help Gadaffi get his way.

To read the Wikileaks cable in full, click here.

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