Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter

It is ironic that South Africa was talking of pulling out of the ICC while still retaining provisions that allow their legal system to be used against other sovereign States.

Many Africans were not surprised when the ruling South African party, the ANC, announced recently that they had resolved that their government should withdraw its membership to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This was largely expected given the drama that surrounded attempts by some people in that country to have Sudan president Omar al-Bashir arrested during the AU Heads of State and Government Summit in June this year, on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the ICC over his alleged involvement in war crimes in his country’s Darfur region.

The South African government, however, did not arrest President al-Bashir, despite the country’s High Court order to do so.

It is in that context that the ANC’s decision to pull out of the ICC should be understood.

In announcing the pull out resolution, the ANC’s chairperson of its Sub-Committee on International Relations, Obed Bapela said: “. . . the ICC has lost direction; it is no longer an instrument that operates freely and fairly for every member.”

The ANC’s decision has been welcomed by many right thinking Africans who see the ICC as targeting only African leaders since its inception in 2002, while war mongers like former US president George W. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair continue to walk around scot-free despite instigating many illegal wars during their respective reigns.

It is ironic that while the ANC has attacked the ICC as “an instrument that no longer acted freely”, the South African courts have gone on to issue extra-territorial judgments that affect sovereign nations.

This follows judgments that were issued by South African courts enforcing a judgment passed by the disbanded sadc Tribunal that resulted in a property belonging to the Zimbabwe Government being auctioned two weeks ago.

Before its disbandment, the Tribunal had issued a judgment that sought to reverse Zimbabwe’s land reform programme in a way that observers said attacked the sovereignty of member states, resulting in the suspension of its operations in 2011 and subsequent dissolution in 2012.

It is ironic that South Africa was talking of pulling out of the ICC while still retaining provisions that allow their legal system to be used against other sovereign States.

What is important is to understand that “international law” is a law of the powerful and is meant to protect their interests especially their ill-gotten wealth from Africa.

This is what the South Africans may be realising now by pulling out of the ICC. However, the irony of it all is that while they accuse the ICC of unfairness, they have allowed their courts to be used to effect a ruling made by the disbanded sadc Tribunal which essentially was meant to protect white farmers’ interests in Zimbabwe.

It is clear that South Africa is in a Catch-22 situation in that they want to be seen to be abiding by the international law (respecting the sadc Tribunal judgments) and at the same time appear to be moving with most Africans by pulling out of the ICC.

If anything, South Africa has not made meaningful transformation since the collapse of Apartheid minority rule 21 years ago.

Because of that lack of transformation, structures to protect white privilege are still dominant in South Africa’s society.

South Africa still has to transform as a society in terms of race and development.

“The dominance of the white race is quite appalling especially considering the fact that the black majority is in power. When it comes to the way their society is structured, you will find that the whites in South Africa still dominate. South Africa still has a long way to go before it is totally liberated,” according to Chairperson of the University of Zimbabwe Political Science Department, Professor Charity Manyeruke.

“The decision by the South African courts to respect that judgment by the (sadc) Tribunal despite the fact that it had been disbanded is indicative of the fact that the tentacles of apartheid still exist. Nothing much has been done legally, economically or socially to de-construct the apartheid superstructure that maintained white privilege,” she said.

sadc and the AU should take the lead in ensuring colonial structures that prejudiced the black majority are removed if the continent is to progress.

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