THE government’s spin doctors this week devoted most of their energies on building a case for Africa to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) en masse on allegations it is being used by imperial powers to target leaders from the continent.
President Robert Mugabe started the onslaught against the ICC when he assumed the leadership of the African Union (AU) in January and he appears determined to have the collapse of The Hague-based institution as his legacy.
Mugabe’s campaign received a boost this month when South African courts ruled that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was attending an AU summit in Johannesburg, should be arrested for crimes against humanity. The Sudanese leader managed to evade justice with the apparent help of the South African government.
Mugabe’s propagandists mistook that for African solidarity with the ageing president whose anti-ICC stance is clearly self-serving, given the multitude of skeletons in his own cabinet appearing emboldened.
There is reason to speculate that al-Bashir’s troubles in South Africa could have shaken the long-time ruler and his acolytes back in Harare because the names of the Sudanese leader’s pursuers rang a bell.
In October 2014, the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), which won the landmark judgment against the South African government in the al-Bashir case, was able through the courts to compel Pretoria to prosecute members of Mugabe’s regime accused of torturing opposition supporters.
A judgment of the South African High Court on an application by SALC and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum affirmed that the South African police had a duty to investigate the alleged crimes against humanity even if they were committed outside its borders.
This meant that Mugabe’s enforcers cited in the SALC case can be arrested in South Africa and be charged for torture.
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The likelihood of that happening in the near future could be far-fetched because of the ties between Zanu PF and the African National Congress (ANC), but the Zimbabwean ruling party politicians are clever enough to know that they could be living on borrowed time. ANC and South Africa may in the not so distant future get a leader who respects the rule of law and it may become possible to enforce such judgments.
South African courts have been successfully used by dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers denied justice at home hence the trepidation by Zanu PF officials when that country’s courts seem to support the just cause of the ICC should be understandable.
Former Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo this week described Mugabe as an ideal candidate for prosecution by the ICC because of his alleged role in the Gukurahundi massacres that claimed the lives of an estimated 20 000 people in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces soon after independence.
Moyo said the Zanu PF leader must also be held accountable for several human rights violations by his government and deadly electoral violence that happened under his watch.
If Mugabe was not a man afraid of justice, he should be itching to clear his name at such platforms as the ICC.
The refrain about the ICC being an imperial institution is just a ruse to whip up emotions in an as much as the claim that sanctions imposed by the West are the genesis of each and every problem facing Zimbabweans today is political banter Africa’s role in the ICC is not a pressing issue in Zimbabwe because we are not even a member of that court.
Zimbabweans expect the government to articulating economic revival strategies that would end the vicious cycle of poverty not self-preservation by leaders only concerned about evading justice.