The official opposition, the DA, has reacted to the news that the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has dismissed the State’s request to appeal its earlier Omar Al-Bashir ruling in the wake of international embarrassment when the government facilitated his fleeing of the jurisdiction despite domestic and international law prohibiting them from doing so.
The DA says In light of “this scathing indictment on government; the DA will consider pursuing an order of contempt against President Zuma and his Cabinet members and others who aided and abetted the fleeing of an internationally wanted genocidal war lord”.
Mmusi Maimane, the Federal Leader of the Democratic Allianc says in allowing Al-Bashir to leave South Africa Zuma, as the custodian of South Africa’s constitutional democracy, supported by his Cabinet Ministers, wilfully and flagrantly broke the law. He did this to protect his friend despite a court order expressly prohibiting Al-Bashir leaving the country.
“This is the man who is at the very top of our constitutional democracy. Who instead of upholding the Rule of law has decided to treat it with the utmost contempt and disdain and he must be brought to book. We are pleased that both the SCA and the North Gauteng High Court are taking a principled legal stand on flagrant abuses of power and disregard for due process and the Rule of Law,” says Maimane.
In its latest ruling the SCA said:
- The conduct of the Respondents (government) in failing to take steps to arrest and detain, for surrender to the International Criminal Court, the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, after his arrival in South Africa on 13 June 2015 to attend the 25th Assembly of the African Union, was inconsistent with South Africa’s obligations in terms of the Rome Statute and section 10 of the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002, and unlawful;
- The applicant is entitled to the costs of the application on a pro bono basis; andd
- The appeal is otherwise dismissed.
The North Gauteng High Court originally held that “there are clear indications that the order of Sunday, June 15 2015 was not complied with. A democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist or function if the government ignores its constitutional obligations.”
Additionally, “Section 165 of the Constitution reads that judicial authority is vested in the courts, and courts must apply the law impartially without fear, favour or prejudice…no person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of the courts, and they must assist the courts to ensure its dignity.”
The Court’s decision to dismiss, with costs, the government’s baseless bid to appeal the judgement on the Al-Bashir escape is a damning indictment of the government’s deliberate decision to let Al-Bashir leave our country in the first place.
Indeed the South African government should have never invited President Al-Bashir to our shores much less facilitate his state-sanctioned escape knowing full well its obligations to international and domestic law.
This should serve as a warning to President Zuma and his cohort in Cabinet that the Sudanese President should not be invited back to South Africa as he announced yesterday at a briefing on South African foreign policy.
President Zuma stated that “the South African Government is aware of the order made by the International Criminal Court… requesting submissions from South Africa in relation to the case of President Al-Bashir. We are currently studying the order. We will then make a determination as to the next course of action, if any.”
These comments seem to indicate the ANC government may not comply with the request, which shows a distinct lack of regard for their legal obligation to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This episode will forever represent President Zuma and the ANC’s active destruction of constitutionalism and moral leadership, where the President and his government conspired to bow to the whims of a wanted warlord and human rights violator.