Many considered the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to be a close African ally of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, but a spokesman for Mr. Mugabe now says the 87-year-old president had some "serious differences" with his erstwhile comrade.
At the height of its economic and political crisis Zimbabwe turned to Libya for fuel, and Gadhafi openly denounced Western sanctions against President Mugabe and many other members of his ZANU-PF party. Libya firmly backed Zimbabwean land reform.
Despite what many took to be a tight relationship, the state-controlled Herald newspaper this week quoted Mugabe spokesman George Charamba as saying the Zimbabwean leader and Gadhafi had sharp differences “founded on principles.”
Charamba says Mugabe thought Gadhafi's plan for a “United States of Africa” was “too idealistic” and disagreed with Gadhafi when he sought Western rehabilitation.
Charamba added however that that despite disagreements, Zimbabwe cannot accept summary execution as a model for political change, saying it was up to the people of Libya, and not NATO, to change the political system in that country.
But commentator and South African-based journalist Basildon Peta says “many lies” are now being told by African leaders now that Gadhafi is dead, telling reporter Violet Gonda that whatever differences Robert Mugabe and Moammar Gadhafi may have had were insignificant in comparison with their comradeship as fellow African dictators.
“Everything he (Charamba) is saying now should be taken with a drum of salt, not a pinch of salt. I cannot imagine any difference of principle between Mugabe and Gadhafi because they were all the same on many issues," Peta said. "It’s just jumping onto the bandwagon to try and disown this very discredited ally of theirs."
Political commentator Charles Mangongera said Mr. Mugabe may not have approved of Gadhafi's eccentricities, but never objected to human rights abuses in Libya. Whatever policy differences existed, ZANU-PF was ideologically in tune with Gadhafi, he said.