SA assumes UN Security Council presidency

Since the assumption of the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council by South Africa two days ago, speculation has been rife Zimbabwe could be dragged to the world body’s highest decision-making roundtable if it does not play ball with the international community and fully implement provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

However, there have been mixed feelings over the issue with political analysts harbouring different views.

Some told NewsDay it was a non-event while others said President Robert Mugabe should be careful because South Africa was increasingly becoming a darling of the West and Europe could easily pander to their demands.

Political analyst and University of Zimbabwe lecturer John Makumbe said: “It’s a non-event for Zimbabwe because I do not see South Africa advocate for Zimbabwe to be on the UN Security Council’s agenda as this will be a clear sign of failure on its part. South Africa is likely to keep Africa issues within the African Union arena, especially after what happened in Libya.

“In fact, South Africa is likely to push for African solutions to African problems. To let the Zimbabwe issue go to the UN Security Council is an admission of total failure. South Africa, if pressurised by the West, is going to insist it’s doing a good job.”

Academic and political commentator Ibbo Mandaza thought otherwise. He said South Africa’s position on major issues had increasingly become tricky especially with its stance on Libya where the country supported Nato to bomb the North African nation in relentless bids to smoke out Muammer Gaddafi for human rights abuses.

Said Mandaza: “South Africa is increasingly being in the US/British orbit just like Nigeria. What happened in Libya must be taken as warning shots to (President) Mugabe. At the end of the day, Zimbabwe cannot indulge in impunity. South Africa will push more and more for the full implementation of the GPA. All this talk about elections, Zanu PF needs to be warned that you cannot ignore the international position of the GPA.”

Meanwhile Reuters reports that South Africa enters the New Year with several high-level events on the international relations calendar.

High on the list is assuming the presidency of the UN Security Council, the world body’s highest decision-making forum, and participating in the UN High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, as well as the 18th session of the African Union in Addis Ababa and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

According to Reuters, South Africa expected to use its month-long presidency of the Security Council to strengthen relations between the UN and regional organisations in particular the AU with the UN’s handling of the Libyan crisis in mind.

Next week President Jacob Zuma will be in New York to co-chair the UN High Level Panel on Global Sustainability.

Five new countries yesterday joined a UN Security Council driven by one of the biggest international splits in years on how to handle the Arab Spring uprisings.

On Libya, South Africa backed two resolutions that authorised the Nato air strikes, but later joined Russia, China, India and Brazil in saying that Nato had exceeded its mandate and pursued regime change in Libya.

On Syria, Russia and China, with South Africa’s backing among others, vetoed a European resolution condemning the violence in that country, arguing it would be the first step toward Libya-style military action against Assad’s regime.

Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo start two-year terms on the council which has been wounded by air strikes in Libya and is battling over President Bashar al-Assad’s deadly crackdown in Syria. Growing tensions around Iran add to the nerves on the 15-member body.

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