South Africa’s official opposition party will make the first steps towards impeaching President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday, 01 September over Sudan’s al-Bashir furore.
Zuma is being accused of ignoring an order of the North Gauteng High Court by allowing Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, to escape South Africa on June 15, 2015.
Whether the move will amount to anything, only time will tell, but with Zuma’s ruling ANC enjoying dominance in parliament, it all points towards a filibuster.
South Africa, a signatory of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) allowed the Sudanese president to slip out of its borders even after the Supreme Court barred him from doing so.
Omar al-Bashir faces war crimes and crimes against humanity. He had come to South Africa to attend the African Union heads of state summit in June. Analysts believe this was a defiance of the ICC.
The African Union chair and President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe commenting on the issue said President Zuma gave assurances to al-Bashir before he came to South Africa adding that the host country was supposed to respect her assurances.
Pretoria argues that al-Bashir was in the country for African Union business and is defiant that the country could not arrest him. This view is not shared by Botswana who warned that if the summit had been held in Gaborone, al-Bashir would have been handed to the ICC.
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However, this move has left President Zuma under heavy internal criticism especially from local rights groups and opposition political formations.
The motion by the Democratic Alliance to impeach Zuma will also call for the creation of a special ad hoc committee to "deliberate on impeachment proceedings against Mr Zuma for violating the Constitution, his oath of office and a court order that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir not be allowed to leave SA".
Of interest to note is that at the time of the impeachment deliberations, Zuma will likely be dining with al-Bashir in China as the two leaders join the world's second largest economy in celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the End of the Occupation of China and the Second World War.
Zuma was invited by Xi Jinping, president of the People’s Republic of China, to participate in celebrations in Beijing on 3 September 2015.
It is anticipated that Presidents Zuma and Xi will hold bilateral talks on the margins of the event.
Sudan’s al-Bashir is on a four day state visit in China and is set to be joined by Zuma during the week as both leaders are scheduled for bilateral talks with Beijing and plan to attend the 70th anniversary commemorations.
Al-Bashir’s China trip is believed to be another direct defiance of the ICC orders against his travel and a warrant for his arrest.
Will South Africa’s parliament especially minority opposition make any significant inroads on the impeachment when one considers that it has failed to capitalise on the Nkandla gate scandal.
Zuma’s visit to China at a time when al-Bashir is also visiting the Asian country is a clear demonstration of political capital he enjoys back home and he surely is unfazed by what will be happening in Cape Town.
Regardless of the obvious outcome in Cape Town, Zuma will still be comfortable and unlikely to be moved from the presidency.