PRETORIA: There are rumblings within South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) that the country should consider pulling out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to avoid being alienated from some crucial members of the African Union (AU) who have beef with the ICC.
The ANC’s spokesperson on International Relations Obed Bapela has hinted that there exists room for discussion within the ruling party whether or not the ICC remains relevant and if South Africa should remain within the ICC.
South Africa desperately needs the overwhelming support of AU member states in her bid to secure a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.
Following Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s assisted escape to evade the ICC warrant of arrest here last week that stems from alleged war crimes, questions are being asked whether or not South Africa’s political considerations outweigh her legal obligations as a signatory to the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The government allowed al-Bashir to depart from South Africa on account of immunity granted to Heads of State attending the AU summit last week against a Pretoria High Court order prohibiting him from leaving South Africa while the court dealt with his case. The non-governmental organization ÔÇô the Southern African Litigation Centre made an application to the Northern Gauteng High Court for al-Bashir’s arrest.
The official opposition the Democratic Alliance (DA) said this week it was going to ask the country’s Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate who authorised use of state funds to enable al-Bashir to flee arrest in South Africa.
“It cannot be right that domestic and international laws are flouted to protect an alleged war criminal and human rights violator while the government of President Jacob Zuma remains silent and avoids answering pertinent questions,” the DA leader Mmusi Maimane said.
The Sunday Times has reported that al-Bashir’s assisted escape from South Africa was planned five days ahead of the African Union summit held in Johannesburg last week but the government on Monday dismissed the newspaper’s s report that the security cluster ministers held a secret meeting in Cape Town to protect and give safe passage to al-Bashir.
“The [Sunday Times] report relies on nameless and faceless sources to make these allegations. Government categorically denies that there was a secret meeting held by the security cluster Ministers including Minister in the Presidency and the Director-General of the Presidency, in Cape Town. Government remains committed to finalise this matter through the court process. It is expected to provide the court with a report that explains how President al- Bashir left the country,” said cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams on Monday.