Former Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, who fled into hiding after rebels toppled his regime two months ago in the Arab Spring’s most tumultuous uprising, was killed as fighters battling the vestiges of his loyalist forces wrested control of his hometown of Sirte.
Media outlets showed Gaddafi’s corpse lying on the ground, with a bloodied face, lifeless open eyes and an apparent gunshot wound to the side of the head, as jubilant fighters fired automatic weapons in the air.
The images punctuated an emphatic and violent ending to his 42 years as a ruthless and bombastic autocrat, who had basked in his reputation as the self-styled king of kings of Africa.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Gaddafi has been killed,” Mahmoud Jibril, the prime minister in the interim government, told a news conference in Tripoli.
Incredible, isn’t it? Libyans rejoiced as news of his death spread. Car horns blared in Tripoli and in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the rebellion began in February, as residents poured into the streets to celebrate.
While it is unfortunate that Gaddafi had met his fate in a brutal manner, he was selfishly defiant for nothing, and so, deserved the punishment. He had all the time he could have to run away and seek asylum in a neighbouring country, but he thought he was more powerful than other men combined.
What made him think that way is still a mystery. He had ruled Libya for 42 years, but still he was convinced no one could better be Libyan president than himself alone and his sons.
What a pity! One would believe that Gaddafi’s death is a critical lesson and warning to other authoritarian leaders in Africa and beyond, that iron-fisted rule “inevitably comes to an end”.
For Africa in general, and Zimbabwe in particular, the events in Libya prove once more that the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end, and in many cases those who preside over these institutions often suffer a brutal end.
The government recently deported Libyan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Taher Elmagrahi for switching his allegiance to the National Transitional Authority (NTC), which Harare believed was unjustly fighting Gaddafi. It is a fact that Gaddafi was one of President Robert Mugabe’s “all-weather friends”.
Mugabe also supported him even when it was apparent that he was losing ground. Zimbabwe has repeatedly refused to recognise the NTC under the guise that the African Union was taking a cautious approach to the issue. Surprisingly enough, all other African countries recognised them.
The reason could be something to do with their clear foreign policy. Does Zimbabwe have a foreign policy? It does not appear to be clear with its policies.
Is the foreign policy meant to benefit the country or individuals? If so, Zimbabwe would not have been at sixes and sevens over who to support in Libya. The Libyans had made their decision to dump Gaddafi – so who were we to deny them their only chance to choose their own destiny?
Ironically, soon after Gaddafi met his violent end, the African Union, which he led and was one of its main financiers, lifted its suspension of Libya’s membership.
The AU said it had decided to “authorise the current authorities in Libya to occupy the seat of Libya in the AU and its organs”.
What a lesson to Zimbabwe – you lose an election pass on the baton to the other.