By John Chimunhu|
President Robert Mugabe endured egg on his face after African leaders shot down a proposal backed by Zimbabwe to pull the continent out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it emerged.
Mugabe himself has refused to sign the Rome Statute placing Zimbabwe under ICC jurisdiction in an attempt to escape prosecution for ordering the murder of more than 50 000 people during the Gukurahundi army crackdown. Mugabe loyalists also killed hundreds of opposition supporters after their leader lost elections in 2008.
The ageing dictator wanted African leaders to pull out of the ICC completely, claiming the body was racist. However, Now Daily’s Philippa Robins in Addis Abba reports that nearly all 34 of the 54 African countries that have endorsed the ICC
refused to back a mass withdrawal. Instead, they adopted watered down versions of the resolutions, appealing to the ICC to delay the November trial of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and not to prosecute sitting heads of state.
Former United Nations secretary-general, the Ghanaian Kofi Annan said withdrawing from the ICC would be a “badge of shame” for the troubled continent.
Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Tendai Biti rejected Mugabe’s claims that the ICC was racist.
“Who in this world would have anything against justice to those who commit genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes? In my book, only the most predatory of dictators,” Biti said.
He said it was useless to expect African leaders to be objective when “three-quarters of them are in power by hook and crook of a gun or viciously stolen election”.
He noted that of the eight cases before the ICC, four had been referred by African countries, including Uganda.
“It is countries like Zimbabwe where the application of the rule of law is eclectic and subordinate that you have challenges. It is countries in Africa where the state itself is the chief bandit and, therefore, cannot be prosecuted in its own courts that tribunals like the ICC were created,” said Biti. “Thus the fact that of the eight prosecutions done or pending, all originate from Africa is not because of racialism. But because it is in Africa alone where the Bench is an extension of the ruling party, where the Bench is not sufficiently independent to prosecute a vicious executive.”
By John Chimunhu|