South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma weighed in on the most powerful president on earth, Barack Obama together with his NATO allies for the refugee crisis.
He said the Mediterranean refugee crisis was “their creation” and they “should bear the burden of accommodating the refugees” fleeing North Africa into Europe.
Zuma, who seemed to be borrowing a leaf from his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, spoke of African solutions to African problems while addressing members of the diplomatic community at his presidential guest house in Pretoria early this week.
His address sounded more like a country preparing to garner for more support from regional peers to get a permanent seat in the Security Council. If that was the agenda he has an uphill task in convincing some of the hardliners like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is unfortunate that a continent with more than one billion people is not represented with a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. South Africa will continue to use her participation in the UN to call for the reform of the Council,” said Zuma.
A permanent seat in the Security Council will ensure that South Africa gets veto powers currently only enjoyed by a few, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
South Africa’s president said the NATO powers who dethroned the Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi should bear the burden of refugees fleeing North Africa into Europe.
“We pledge our support for the European Union as it grapples with the refugee crisis. We should however remember that this crisis was not there before they (USA and NATO allies) bombed the country and deposed the leader of that country Gaddafi,” he said.
“The crisis should be understood in its context of deposing of Gaddafi so I think they should take responsibility of the refugee crisis.”
According to media reports, there have been over 2,500 deaths in the Mediterranean this year, a figure higher than last year’s.
The European Union’s (EU’s) ambassador who attended the briefing could not agree with Zuma’s sentiments.
Roeland van de Geer, the EU’s ambassador said though the countries were committed to the refugee crisis they could not be held responsible for the refugee crisis.
Zuma also took the occasion to welcome the normalisation of relations between South Africa’s strong ally Cuba and the United States.
“We welcome the re-establishment of relations between Cuba and the USA. We call for the repealing of all legislations that maintains the embargo on trade,” he said.
His speech sounded more of an African president giving a blueprint on how the continent should articulate her position at the coming UN General Assembly.