Massive ICC Africa pull out on cards
Lovemore Ranga Mataire
An exodus of African countries from the ICC is on the horizon following Namibia’s resolution to pull out of the court citing selective prosecution of African leaders.
Namibia, which joined the ICC in 2002, becomes the first African country to boldly resolve to pull out barely two months after South Africa’s African National Congress passed similar recommendations to withdraw membership from the court.
The move by Namibia is set to embolden other African countries to pull out of the body, which is largely viewed as a mere appendage of the West’s hegemonic hold on developing countries.
At a media briefing on Tuesday, Namibian Information Minister Tjekero Tweya on Monday disclosed that his country’s Cabinet’s had recommended pulling out of the ICC and had tasked the Ministry of International Relations and Co-operation to review the country’s foreign policy.
“Cabinet approved Namibia’s position regarding possible withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, given the discussions of the Swapo Party central committee.”
Swapo has over the years repeatedly criticised the ICC for being blatantly biased against African and other developing nations including targeting African leaders.
In a speech delivered at the African Union in South Africa this year, Namibian President Geingob said the ICC was becoming an “abomination” by abrogating its mandate.
“Some people are saying we are the one who created the ICC. However, when one creates something to be an asset but later on it becomes an abomination, you have the right to quit it since it has ceased serving its purpose,” part of President Geingob read.
He further stated that no institution or country had the prerogative to dictate to Africans, who and by whom they should be governed and urged the court to stay out of the domestic affairs of Kenya.
Namibia has not been spared from the biased noose of the ICC. In 2007, the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR), now NamRights, lodged a submission to the ICC requesting that former President Sam Nujoma, former Defence Minister Erkki Nghimtina, former chief defence Solomon ‘Jesus” Hawala and NDF first battalion colonel Thomas Shuuya be investigated for ‘instigating, planning, supervising, abetting, aiding and defending the disappearance of hundreds of Namibians.”
Although Zimbabwe is not a signatory, President Mugabe as the African Union chairperson has consistently led the clarion call for African to pull out from the court largely viewed as an instrument to make African leaders pliable to Western nations’ machinations.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Lawrence Mandara said Namibia’s government resolution to pull out of the ICC confirmed a long held African position that the body was a mere political tool used by powerful nations to bring in line weaker developing nations.
“When Namibia signed the Rome statues I am sure they had good intentions but have since realised that the court does not serve their interests as a nation. It is within their right to pull out and Namibia is just a pacesetter. I won’t be surprised to see other African nations doing the same,” said Mandara.
He said it was very likely that at its general assembly meeting next year, the AU is going to pass a resolution for a continental pull out from the ICC.
Another political analyst, Professor Charity Manyeruke, said Namibia had done the right thing given ICC’s checkered history in the application of law.
“The conduct of ICC in terms of conducting its business has been biased against African countries and other developing nations. When an institution is being used by other powerful nations for their own selfish ends, that institution looses credibility and will no longer be serving any good,” Prof Manyeruke said.
She said the ICC’s role was meant to reduce Africans to puppets of the West and it does not augur well that its chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, was an African from Gambia.
Prof Manyeruke said most African nations who are members of the ICC are likely to follow Namibia’s example.
She said the decision by Namibia and South Africa to pull out of the ICC had far reaching implications in terms of the tattered credibility of the court. The decision by South Africa’s ANC came after President Jacob Zuma’s government was censured by ICC for disregarding an ICC-construed court order to arrest the Sudanese president, Omar Al Bashir, when he entered the country to attend an AU summit earlier this year.
The Sudanese leader has been accused of genocide and war-crimes by the ICC.
He visited South Africa in June and was allowed to leave despite a court order to detain him.
In 2013, a number of AU member states threatened to pull out of the ICC in response to charges brought against Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.
The two were accused of fuelling violence in the wake of the country’s 2007 presidential elections, in which more than 1000 people were reportedly killed.
There are 15 cases currently before the ICC, all of them against Africans. There is every indication that the ICC is targeting African leaders, working to a script written in Washington, Paris and London.