Nkutšoeu Motsau, Chairperson of Azanla MVA and regular blogger for Sedibeng Ster, gives his opinion on a recent statement by James Selfe, Federal Executive Chairperson of the DA, regarding the Rome Statute Repeal Bill. Motsau stresses the fact that he is by no means a lawyer by training. His opinion below is from a political point of view:
For some time before Al Bashir came to South Africa, there were rumblings in Africa that the International Criminal Court was heavily biased against Africa. There was a perception that many of those prosecuted there were from Africa. We must remember that only 33 African countries have signed the Rome Statutes Treaty. Al Bashir had visited an African country before he came to South Africa. And so it was, South Africa was going to host an African event. The South African government miscalculated that Al Bashir enjoyed international diplomatic immunity by virtue of him attending an AU meeting that was hosted by South Africa. The courts here, however, found that the South African government, in terms of the Rome Statutes Treaty, which South Africa had ratified, was obliged to arrest Al Bashir on arrival and hand him over to the International Criminal Court. This, diplomatically, embarrassed South Africa immensely.
At the time South African soldiers were in Darfur. Arresting Al Bashir would have been tantamount to signing a death warrant for those soldiers. South Africa was heavily involved in bringing about an African solution in that region via the AU and the UN. The best that South Africa could have done was to advise Al Bashir not to come to South Africa. But they shot themselves in the foot. Now they are pulling out of the Treaty. That is the background to the saga as far as I remember it.
It is certainly disingenuous of the DA to try and suggest that the government is inherently genocidal and subscribes to the doctrine of committing crimes against humanity and that by pulling out of the Treaty it hopes to get impunity and reciprocity! Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the government must be severely and unsympathetically critisized. There is no need to heap falsehoods upon it. On the other hand, the courts have already started to address the question of people like Shaun Abrahams. I heard the chief justice say, the other day, the person that Cyril Ramaphosa shall appoint, shall be regarded as his CV as to how serious he wants to fight corruption. And I believe that as soon as we get the ANC out of government, we shall replace the Hawks with the Scorpions. The DA must not use the weaknesses in these structures in their argument as though they are permanent and immutable. All I’m saying is if these entities were functioning properly like our courts do, the DA’s arguments would fall away.
The United States of America and the state of Israel are not signatory to the Rome Statutes Treaty. Therefore, their soldiers or citizens who commit crimes against humanity and engage in genocidal activities, and there are many irrefutable examples of these, may not be hauled before the ICC. To my knowledge, the DA has never raised a finger about this. Apartheid was declared a crime against humanity. I have never heard the DA saying anything about the perpetrators of those crimes. Now the DA would have us believe that the South African government wishes to commit crimes against humanity and has genocidal tendencies. Again, nothing could be further from the truth.
It is true that there are people who are committing these heinous crimes in Africa and elsewhere. I’m thinking about the Central African Republic, Mali, Nigeria, Saharawi Arab People’s Republic, South Sudan, and Somali, to mention some in Africa, including Palestine. The perpetrators must be arrested and prosecuted. If the Africans feel they must do it themselves, no one can deny them the right to do so.
Dated: 20 December 2017
* The writer of this column, Nkutšoeu Motsau, was born in Top Location in the Vaal Triangle in 1953. He grew up in Sharpeville. He is a tetraplegic as a result of a car accident in July 2005 in Sharpeville and now resides in Cape Town. Nkutšoeu is Chairperson of Azanla MVA.
Follow this link to read James Selfe’s opinion: