Vladimir Putin (Mikail Svetlov/Getty Images)
The ANC has been silent about this international criminal court Russia issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin, but the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said the Russian leader was “welcome” in South Africa.
South Africa is facing a diplomatic problem as Putin is among international dignitaries attending the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit in the country in August.
During a media briefing earlier this week, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula dodged a question on whether the government would arrest Putin upon entering the country.
As a member state of the ICC, South Africa is legally bound to arrest Putin. But the country has rich historical ties with Russia. it puts pressure on the president Cyril RamaphosaWhich are already caught in the crossfire between Russia and the United States.
The US has already indicated it will review how South Africa benefits from its trade pacts with African countries, following a controversial naval exercise off the KwaZulu-Natal coast involving the South African, Russian and Chinese navies.
Pretoria has adopted a controversial “neutral” stance Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly, much to the dismay of its Western trading partners.
South Africa was at loggerheads with the ICC after the ruling ANC pledged to withdraw from the body which it accused of targeting African leaders. The party changed its tune last year, opting to review its decision to withdraw due to the “changing balance of forces”.
In 2015 the government came under criticism when it failed to arrest the then Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited South Africa to attend an African Union summit. South Africa was required to do so as it is a signatory to the Rome Statute.
Al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, but the administration of then President Jacob Zuma allowed him to leave the country despite a court order specifically prohibiting his departure. Shortly afterwards, some supporters of the ANC called for a withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
He believed that the government’s obligation to arrest heads of state implicated in crimes against humanity, particularly in Africa, complicated South Africa’s efforts to resolve conflicts on the continent. The ANC, along with other African states that were strongly agitating for “African solutions to African problems”, also believed that the ICC was targeting Africa while ignoring leaders in the West.
On Thursday, EFF leader Julius Malema took a tougher stance on the Putin issue than the ruling party.
He said, ‘If need be, we will go and bring him from the airport to his meeting, he will address, finish all his meetings, we will take him back to the airport. We are not going to be told by these hypocrites of the ICC who are the real violators of human rights who know the killings of this world,” Malema said.
Malema argued that the ICC had failed to act against Western leaders including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama. He said that Blair and Bush had invaded Iraq for no reason, while Obama had killed Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.
He said that the EFF does not want the hypocrisy of the ICC to be implemented here in our country.
“Welcome Putin. We know our friends, we know the people who liberated us.