ANC calls for Africa’s pull-out

Lovemore Mataire
Analysts have applauded the African National Congress’s (ANC) decision to pull out of the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICC) citing its selective application of prosecution, which seems to exclusively target leaders from the global south.The decision to pull out of the ICC was a culmination of rigorous discussions at the just-ended ANC general council conference which, among other issues, resolved to lead a continental pull-out crusade.
ANC foreign policy committee member, Obed Bapela, told journalists at a media briefing that more than 2 000 delegates unanimously supported the decision to pull out of the ICC and also to lead a continental walkout.
Reiterating the sentiments of the delegates, South African President Jacob Zuma said the ANC “disagrees with the double standards of the International Criminal Court”.
Zimbabwean political analyst and prominent author Alexander Kanengoni said the decision by the ANC to pull out of the ICC was long overdue.
“It was long overdue. Who doesn’t know that this thing was simply set up by our former colonisers to keep us in check, if not to embarrass us?
“It was a misnomer for a revolutionary party like ANC to have supported such a body,” said Kanengoni.
Former Zimbabwe ambassador to South Africa and Zanu-PF Information secretary Simon Khaya Moyo, who represented Zimbabwe’s revolutionary party at the ANC conference, commended the party’s resolution to pull out of the ICC.
“Although we don’t dictate which policies our sister liberation movements should implement, we think their decision to pull out of the ICC is a wise one.
“Zimbabwe is not a member and our President Cde Mugabe has on numerous occasions made a similar call for African nations to pull out,” said Khaya Moyo.
Observers say the other reason for the ANC’s rather radical decision to pull out of the ICC stems from the growing popularity of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as a leftist party articulating the aspirations of the down-trodden.
This has jolted the ANC into retracing its trajectory in order to regain its identity as a pan-African movement guided by the aspirations of the black majority.
Since attainment of freedom in 1994, the ANC seemed to have been too cautious to radically correct rampant historical injustices of the apartheid era.
The situation was made worse by the fact that the State’s superstructure was still dominated by remnants of the apartheid within the judiciary, correctional services, intelligence and the military. As such South Africans were “free” but everywhere in chains.
Secondly, analysts say, the ANC has realised that the global south is becoming more and more assertive in terms of reclaiming what is rightfully theirs in clamouring for a more authentic voice on the international arena and in terms of exploiting its own resources for the benefit of its people.
There is evident jittery on the part of the ANC being viewed as being too neo-liberal in outlook and capitulating on the need to deliver on the freedom promise enshrined in the party’s founding Freedom Charter.
These are the issues that the EFF, led by Julius Malema, has been articulating.
The issues include land redistribution, economic empowerment and African solidarity and these have become the pinnacle mantles of the EFF.
It was thus not a coincidence that the same issues that the EFF is raising were the same issues that dominated discussions at the ANC general council meeting which was also attended by representatives from sister liberation movements in the region — Zanu-PF Frelimo, MPLA, Swapo and Chama Chamapinduzi.
Bapela told journalists at a media briefing that more than 2 000 delegates unanimously supported the decision to pull out of the ICC and also to lead a continental walkout.
Reiterating the sentiments of the delegates, South African President Jacob Zuma said the ANC “disagrees with the double standards of the International Criminal Court”.
It still remains to be seen how the South African government, long viewed as a purveyor of neo-liberal economic and political policies, intends to carry out this pull-out campaign given the fact that almost half of the African countries are members of the ICC.
However, it seems this Damascus moment by Africa’s oldest liberation movement has come at an opportune time when the global south is becoming more assertive in its efforts to reform the world international order largely dominated by the countries in the global north.
The global south’s assertive voice was evident at the recent United Nations General Assembly in New York where it called for the reform of the Security Council, which is viewed as an archaic relic of a skewed world order established after the defeat of Germany in 1945.
Thus, the initiative by ANC to pull out of the ICC is couched within that assertiveness by the global south to find a definite expression of their independence and freedom.
It is also aimed at appeasing a restless populace still searching for an enduring economic, social and political model that will make independence more meaningful.
But there are other several pertinent domestic issues that could have motivated ANC to take such a radical position given the entrenchment and embedment of white hegemonic interest within its political fabric.
First, the ANC government could no longer stomach the orchestrated flak from the ICC and other like-minded organisations over its failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir when he visited South Africa on African business in June this year.
It has since emerged that the refusal to arrest Al Bashir by the ANC government was motivated by the need to avert a possible backlash from African countries with huge South African investments.
Ironically, it was the South African government which seemed to be always going against the grain in endorsing decisions viewed as anti-African especially its United Nations endorsement of the bombing of Libya, which also resulted in the murder of the country’s leader Muammar Gadaffi.
That decision seems to have been a nagging speck on the ANC’s conscience as it led to the catastrophic intervention of Western nations in annihilating the whole of Libya, including assassinating its leader.
The then South African Foreign Affairs director Jerry Matjila said his country regretted voting in favour of a UN resolution authorising a no-fly zone in Libya without understanding how it would be enforced.
“I don’t think we explored thoroughly the modalities of the how, (such as) how do you ensure no-fly zones?
“All of us were moved by the carnage we saw in Libya. We were moved by the extent of destruction of civilian life and I think truly to the (African Union) and South Africa, and correctly so, we thought now we must protect ordinary people.
“But the modalities were left, I think, unresolved conclusively and those who have the means then developed their own means to enforce the 1973 resolution,” Matjil said then.
UN Resolution 1973 was passed by the world governing body’s Security Council shortly after Muammar Gaddafi ordered ground and air strikes to quell a popular uprising in the country he had ruled for 42 years.
Writing for Al Jazeera in June this year, a specialist in international human rights and humanitarian law, Mehari Taddele Maru, said South Africa was cautious not to violate the AU’s decisions of non-cooperation with the ICC on any cases related to Kenyan and Sudanese leaders.
This is in the context of the fact that in October 2013, an extraordinary AU summit was called to deliberate the role of the ICC within Africa. The member-states agreed to fight the ICC, and its global influence, through diplomatic channels by appealing to the United Nations Security Council.
They chose to limit the ICC’s mandate to take cases on any sitting heads of state and senior officials of governments across Africa. To do this, they expanded the powers of a unified and called on countries to individually withdraw from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.
Within the political climate and culture of the AU, South Africa’s continued membership to ICC can be viewed by others as tantamount to the betrayal of pan-Africanism.
A major issue surrounding the ICC stems from questions of whether or not it should prosecute African leaders and why it seems to exclusively prosecute African leaders.

December 2015
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