African Union Not ICC Headquarters: Mugabe

African Leaders

THE African Union is not the International Criminal Court headquarters and there is no way it would have allowed the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir during its 25th General Assembly in South Africa, President Mugabe has said.

Addressing a Press conference at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg at midnight on Monday, the AU chairman questioned the reasoning of some South African judges after that country’s High Court gave an interim order seeking to bar President Al-Bashir from leaving Johannesburg ahead of a ruling on his detention.

When journalists sought his sentiment on the Al-Bashir saga, President Mugabe said: “This (venue of summit) is not the headquarters of the ICC. There is this view that we should distance ourselves from the ICC. The treaty was signed not by the AU, but by individual countries. Of those that signed the treaty, they are now regretting.”

The AU and Sadc chairman said Zimbabwe was not a signatory to the controversial judicial institution.

“We did not sign as Zimbabwe to submit ourselves to justice outside the country.”

President Mugabe then slammed some South African judges.

“We won’t allow the police here to arrest him. It is not all the judges who think as we do. You get a judge who hates freedom fighters, who hates some persons,” he said.

President Mugabe took a swipe at foreign- funded non-governmental organisations that were angling for President Al-Bashir’s arrest in South Africa.

“There is no African country without NGOs, which is nonsense. They are set up by governments outside who pay these NGOs to be their informers on how we run our countries. Where was good governance when the people here were under apartheid? Nobody is trying anyone,” he said. “We live with our enemies. Here your Jesus (Nelson Mandela) forgave those who were champions of apartheid but they would have never done that.”

South Africa is a signatory to the ICC and NGOs in that country used that to seek the arrest of President Al-Bashir whom the ICC accuses of genocide and violating human rights in his country.

The African Union Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who attended the press briefing together with Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, said South Africa had no legal status to cause the arrest of President Al-Bashir during the AU summit.

“Sudan is a member of the African Union. They always attend its summit be it in Addis Ababa. There is nothing different. He always attends the summit and here was no different,” she said.

Added Dr Zuma: “The AU summit is not a bilateral meeting. It is hosted according to the AU. This venue up to now is an AU venue. It is not a South African venue. It can be located geographically in South Africa but it is an AU venue. ICC has State parties, AU has no State party. For us there was nothing new.”

Efforts by the ICC to cause the arrest of a sitting Head of State and Government received wild condemnation from progressive African organisations with Mr Joseph Chilengi of of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union (AU-ECOSOCC) saying it was time for the court to “organise itself or bury itself”.

“President Al-Bashir was in South Africa at the invitation of the AU not at the invitation of South Africa. South Africa was a mere host. The jurisdiction of Al-Bashir is situated in the AU,” said Mr Chilengi.

“The entire African civil society movement will defend the credibility and integrity of this union. No Kangaroo Court shall ever come and disturb the political-social environment we have,” he said.

Mr Chilengi said the ICC’s judicial scandal exposed its history of dysfunctionality.

Dr David Hoile, a director for the London based African Research Centre described the ICC as a judicial scandal.

“The court is not the same court Africa finds with today. It said it will pursue justice without fear or favour but it is a deeply dysfunctional court mired in irregularities. It has boiled down to a European Court for Africa. It only represents one-third of the world’s population – the US, Russia, China are not members. It is a very flawed European court for Africa. Politicians have prosecutorial interests.”

He noted that 60 percent of the ICC funding comes from the EU.

“It is EU funded, EU directed. It is nothing more than an instrument for EU foreign policy. The funders are former colonial powers. It is an instrument of neo-colonialism. It has appointed its full ICC judges who have never been lawyers or judges. Their qualification is that they speak English,” added Dr Hoile.

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Source: The Herald

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