In June of last year, Julius Malema, the now-suspended president of the African National Congress Youth League, called for the arrest of President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy for “attempting to assassinate a foreign head of state.”
By November, the Congress of South African Trade Unions still hadn’t cooled down, announcing at a central committee meeting that the war in Libya was motivated by Western greed, and NATO’s air campaign in support of Libyan rebels fighting Qaddafi was an attempt “to effect a regime change in Libya to allow access to the resources of that country.”
For Zuma and many leaders within the AU, the problem was twofold: One, the UN didn’t give the African Union enough time to mediate Qaddafi’s transition out of power, before sending in the NATO bombers. Even a few days before the bombing raids began, Zuma was insisting that a peaceful resolution was possible. Two, South Africa eventually voted in favor of a UN resolution to allow NATO to fly air sorties over Libya to protect civilian populations from Qaddafi's military reprisals. Zuma later complained that the NATO mission was misused to support the rebels, and to force a regime change.