South Africa Set To Leave International Criminal Court

Zuma, al-Bashir
The failure of South Africa to arrest the Sudanese President has been a knotty issue in African politics.

South Africa has begun the legal process of formally withdrawing from the Roman Statute setting up the International Criminal Court.

If it formally withdraws from the statute, it means the country would no longer be bound to the International Criminal Court.

In the ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ signed South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, states that South Africa “has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court of obligations contained in the Rome Statute.”

Under that statute, South Africa is obligated to arrest anyone sought by the tribunal.

The United Nations spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, is however yet to confirm if  the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon has received the notice of withdrawal from South Africa.

al-Bashir Brouhaha

South Africa is exiting the ICC after a controversial visit by Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who was wanted by the tribunal over allegations of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

President al-Bashir in June 2015 was in Johannesburg to attend an African Union summit but the South African government refused to arrest him.

During the visit, provincial court has ruled that the Sudanese president remains in the country while judges considered whether he should be arrested on the ICC warrants.

President al-Bashir left for Khartoum before the court ruled that he should be arrested.

South Afica’s Supreme Court of Appeal later ruled that the government’s refusal o arrest President al-Bashir was a “disgraceful conduct”.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda insists President al-Bashir as a sitting president, directed a campaign of mass killing, rape, and looting against civilians in Darfur.

The charges against the Sudanese president follow the unrest in the Darfur region which started in 2003.

The United Nations said 300,000 people died in the conflict while 2.7 million people were displaced.

Zuma To Address Nigeria’s National Assembly

zumaSouth African President, Jacob Zuma, is billed to arrive in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Monday, ahead of his state visit which will begin on Tuesday.

During the visit, he is expected to address a joint session of Nigeria’s National Assembly on Tuesday.

President Zuma and his host, President Muhammadu Buhari, will also address the South Africa Business Forum.

The South African President arrived with six ministers and a huge business delegation.

In the delegation are the Minister of Trades and Industry, Rob Davies, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister for Energy, Tina Joemat-Peterson, Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane.

Talks are expected to centre on both countries’ bilateral relations and probably the fine on MTN communications by Nigeria as well as Nigeria’s arms money seizures by South Africa.

The Acting Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Martins Cobham, said areas that were perceived to have created some concerns would likely be addressed.

Nigeria is South Africa’s seventh largest trading partner, with crude oil as its major export to South Africa while South Africa has investments in Nigeria in diverse sectors.

South Africa-Nigeria bi-national Commission was established in 1999 and both countries have 34 standing bilateral agreements & Memorandum of Understanding.

A Research Fellow with the University of Johannesburg, Dr. Rita Ozoemena, expects both leaders to discuss the free movement of persons between both countries and also consider their security and economic potential.

Another Research Fellow with Helen Suzeman Foundation, Aubrey Matshiqi, stressed the need for the two countries to find a healthy balance between strategic competition and strategic cooperation.

A Nigerian in South Africa hopes the Nigerian President will discuss issues of police brutality.

South Africa Opposition Calls For Investigation Into Bashir’s flight Out

bashirSouth Africa’s main opposition on Sunday called for a full investigation into the government’s failure to arrest Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, who is due to face charges of genocide at the International Criminal Court.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it wanted the Public Protector’s office to determine who was responsible for authorizing the use of state resources to enable al-Bashir’s departure.

Last Monday, before a Pretoria court ruled that the leader should be held in the country and the ICC’s arrest warrant executed, Bashir flew out of the Waterkloof Air Base heading for Khartoum.

Bashir, who has controlled Sudan for over 25 years, has been indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was in Johannesburg for an African Union summit.

South African officials did not respond to requests for comment, while President Jacob Zuma avoided questions on the subject after a Q&A session in parliament was abandoned on Thursday.

“As the days pass since Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir fled the country, a growing body of evidence points to an elaborate and well-coordinated plot by the Presidency, in collusion with the Security Cluster, to facilitate his escape,” the DA statement read.

The party said it had forwarded a motion to have Bashir’s departure debated in the National Assembly on Tuesday, adding that it would quiz foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at a committee early on Tuesday.

The South African government has maintained that Bashir along with all delegates attending the AU summit were granted immunity.

The United Nations and the U.S. State Department have both expressed disappointment at South Africa’s failure to detain Bashir.