Gaddafi’s Libya


IN 2006, the then Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi said: “Oil companies are controlled by foreigners who have made millions from them. Now, Libyans must take their place to profit from this money.”
A bold statement indeed, one the West was not anticipating.
Gaddafi had declared war on the West.
The West’s preferred status-quo of siphoning Africa’s resources was being threatened.
As such, work began to try and remove Gaddafi from power.
But to what end?
All Gaddafi was doing was standing up to the world’s bullies and giving Libyans what rightfully belonged to them.
It was their right to benefit from the country’s natural resources
On September 1 1969, Gaddafi along with a group of officers, part of the Free Officers Movement, staged a bloodless coup against King Idris I of Libya who at that time was in Greece undergoing medical treatment.
The coup was staged in the city of Benghazi and was over within two hours.
With the help of the newly created governing body, the Revolutionary Command Council, Gaddafi nullified the monarchy and declared the new Libyan Arab Republic a free and sovereign state.
It was now time to work for the development of Libya and its people.
Crude oil was Libya’s primary export and for long, Gaddafi had sought ways to improve the oil sector and ensure Libyans benefitted directly from it.
Groundwork to revamp the sector had started way before his 2006 bold statement.
In October 1969, Gaddafi proclaimed current trade terms unfair, benefitting foreign corporations more than the Libyan state, and by threatening to reduce production, in December Jalloud successfully increased the price of Libyan oil.
In 1970, other OPEC states followed suit, leading to a global increase in the price of crude oil.
The Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) followed with the Tripoli Agreement, in which they secured income tax, back-payments and better pricing from the oil corporations; these measures brought Libya an estimated US$1 billion in additional revenues in its first year.
Increasing state control over the oil sector, the RCC began a programme of nationalisation, starting with the expropriation of British Petroleum’s share of the British Petroleum-N.B. Hunt Sahir Field in December 1971.
In September 1973, it was announced that all foreign oil producers active in Libya were to be nationalised.
For Gaddafi, this was an important step towards socialism.
It proved an economic success; while gross domestic product had been US$3,8 billion in 1969, it had risen to US$13,7 billion in 1974 and US$24,5 billion in 1979. 
In turn, the Libyans’ standard of life greatly improved over the first decade of Gaddafi’s administration, and by 1979, the average per-capita income was at US$8 170, up from US$40 in 1951; this was above the average of many industrialised countries like Italy and the UK.
From 1969 to 1973, the RCC introduced social welfare programmes funded with oil money, which led to house-building projects and improved healthcare and education.
Compulsory education was expanded from six to nine years while adult literacy programmes and free university education were implemented.
Beida University was founded, while Tripoli University and Benghazi University were expanded.
These early social programmes proved popular with Libyans.
Under Gaddafi, health care was a human right and it was free for all Libyans.
Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy in Africa and less people lived below the poverty datum line than in the Netherlands. Libyans did not only enjoy free health care and free education, they also enjoyed free electricity and interest-free loans.
Under Gaddafi’s leadership housing was considered a human right and as such there was virtually no homelessness or Libyans living under bridges.
Issues of women’s rights in Libya were a priority.
Unlike many other nations in the Arab world, women in Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold property and have an income.
Before Gaddafi came into power in 1969, few women went to university but during his reign, more than half of Libya’s university students were women.
One of the first laws Gaddafi passed in 1970 was an equal-pay-for-equal-work law, only a few years after a similar law was passed in the US.
Libyan working mothers enjoyed a range of benefits including cash bonuses for children, free day-care, free health care centres and retirement at 55.
A bursary was given to mothers with newborn babies.
When a Libyan woman gave birth, she was given US$5 000 for herself and the child.
Gaddafi carried out the worlds’ largest irrigation project.
The largest irrigation system in the world also known as the great man-made river was designed to make water readily available to all Libyans across the entire country.
In Libya, a farming business was fully funded by the state.
If any Libyan wanted to start a farm, he/she was given a house, farmland, live stock and seeds, all free of charge.
With all this happening, the West made up their mind on Gaddafi.
His policies and assertive stance on matters of national sovereignty meant he had to be dislodged.
Western powers, under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) ganged up with rebels to remove him from power.
All this was done under the guise of removing a dictator from power.
The Wall Street Journal of May 5 2012 offered evidence, additional to that already accumulated, that NATO military intervention in Libya was rooted in objections to the Gaddafi Government’s economic policies.
But to the world they sold yet another dummy.
Just like they tricked pre-colonial leaders such as King Lobengula into signing away the country, the West used the same tactics to make the world believe ‘order’ had to be restored in Libya.
The end result, Libya now suffers.


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