Of Omar al-Bashir and the South African courts!


THE recent move by overzealous South African courts to want to arrest Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) (which is not an international court, but a court to embarrass African leaders) is an unfortunate event which shows deep divisions within Africa, caused by selfish interests.
The incident shows that South Africa is not singing from the same hymnbook with the rest of African countries.
To begin with, President al-Bashir was not on a private visit to South Africa, but was attending an African Union (AU) summit on a neutral venue, as AU Commission Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma rightfully said.
Two weeks ago we had a bunch of overzealous journalists in Nigeria who sought to embarrass a Head of State, who does not only represent Zimbabweans, but the AU, in also another unfortunate incident in Nigeria.
Many Zimbabweans in the UK, including some who do not support President Mugabe, felt that the attack on our President was an attack not only on Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans, but Southern Africa as a whole as those journalists sought to embarrass both President Mugabe and President Zuma.
“Where is Zuma?” one of them asked.
They wanted to humiliate President Zuma as well.
One Zimbabwean in the UK commenting on the incident, said to me on the phone: “These are the things that you journalists must write about.
“I am not a fan of President Mugabe, but I feel that an attack on a Head of State of another country, who is not only representing his country, but his people and the AU, shows that Nigerians have some scores to settle with Southern Africa.
“Is it because of the recent xenophobia attacks in South Africa, or is it because Nigeria is battling with South Africa to assert themselves as Africa’s superpower?
“That was hooliganism, not journalism.”
Another Zimbabwean in the UK, whom I also spoke with over the phone, said the fact that President Mugabe is a Head of State, should have been respected by the Nigerians.
“As a Head of State of another country, the Nigerian journalists should have respected President Mugabe,” he said.
“Embarrassing him in public was like insulting the two-thirds of Zimbabweans who voted for him to remain the president of the country, so who are they to tell Zimbabweans about democracy, when all they have ever known in the past, is military coup after coup?”
And indeed their views were shared by many Zimbabweans even on social media, apart from the usual anti-Zimbabwean crowd that will always post negatives about their own country.
Pertaining to al-Bashir, some international human rights group seized the opportunity to talk about human rights abuses in South Sudan to justify why he should have been arrested.
However, they fail to state why European leaders who are arming dissidents in Syria and Libya should also not be brought to the ICC because of the gross human rights abuses committed by the rebels in those countries, as one person who called me this morning, said.
Quoted by the Agencies, research and advocacy director for Africa, Netsanet Belay, said about al-Bashir: “South Africa’s role was clear from the day President Omar al-Bashir touched down in the country – he should have been arrested and handed over to the ICC to face trial for the war crimes he is alleged to have committed.
“By failing to hand President Omar al-Bashir over to the ICC during his stay in the country, the South African authorities, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, have through their inaction, aided Omar al-Bashir in his quest to avoid justice.”
Below are some of the comments from people in the UK, including some taken from social media and some people that I spoke to, directly.
Someone commenting on an article posted by NewZimbabwe.com, wrote: “Good point.
“It is like expecting the USA government to arrest a British Prime Minister! “Democratic as they are, but I just cannot see that happening no matter the seriousness of the alleged case!
“The ICC should desist from involving innocent countries and their citizens in its dirty tiffs!
“Bensouda knows where Sudan is.
“Why doesn’t she just jump on a plane with her court warrants and go to confront al-Bashir on her own if she has such convictions rather than playing some political stunts while she is safely holed away in safety!”
IM (Zimbabwean international lawyer based in the UK): “In a way it was an AU summit, it was wrong for the SA courts to want to arrest and handover al-Bashir to the ICC.
“SA is a signatory of the Roman Treaty (ICC) we know that.
“If al-Bashir had gone to South Africa on a private visit, as a visitor of South Africa, they could have detained him and handed him over to the ICC, it would have been within their rights and international obligation as a signatory of the ICC, but this was a Head of State representing his country at the AU Summit, which coincidentally happened to take place in South Africa.
“Our own President, Mugabe, is on US sanctions list, but when it comes to international treaties and conferences such as the United Nations (UN) Assembly, he is allowed to go there.
“The only problem which President Mugabe would encounter in the USA is if he leaves the place of the UN Assembly (New York) to go and visit other parts of the USA.
“It would have been better if they had refused al-Bashir the visa to attend the AU summit than to embarrass him when he gets there.
“Joyce Banda did the same, knowing where her bread was buttered (donor aid) she refused him entry into Malawi to attend the AU summit when she was the president of Malawi, but Malawi never wanted to be a permanent member of the Security Council, so South Africans should be careful.”
J Malunga (UK): “The ICC is controversial, it focuses on humiliating African leaders only.
“If it was a genuine international body, why are they not arresting Blair or Bush, who caused so many atrocities in Iraq when they lied that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction just to remove him from power?
“Why is the ICC not investigating them?
“These Europeans are arming dissidents in Syria and Libya, causing the deaths of millions of civilians, yet the ICC wants to target Africa only?”


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