South African opposition threatens to approach ICC over Zimbabwe crisis

Monday January 21 2019

Zimbabwe protest

Angry protesters outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa on January 16, 2019. Anti-government protests began on January 14 after a hike in fuel prices stoked anger over an economic crisis. PHOTO | AFP 

PETER DUBE
By PETER DUBE
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South African main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has threatened to approach the International Criminal Court (ICC) if President Cyril Ramaphosa continues to "turn a blind eye" on the Zimbabwe crisis.

The DA has been calling on the government to intervene directly to stop what it calls gross human rights violations by the Zimbabwean government.

Zimbabwe was hit by anti-government protests last week after a hike in fuel prices stoked anger over an economic crisis. Several people have been killed after the protests turned violent in the capital Harare and second city Bulawayo.

“The DA strongly believes that the human rights crisis currently in Zimbabwe is of sufficient gravity to warrant an ICC investigation because, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, at least 12 people have been killed, 78 shot at and 240 faced assault, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment,” said Stevens Mokgalapa, the DA’s shadow minister for international relations and cooperation.

He accused President Ramaphosa and his government of “sitting on their hands over the Zimbabwe crisis in much the same manner as [former president] Thabo Mbeki’s failed diplomacy in 2008”.

Mr Mokgalapa was referring to a military clampdown on civilians after a disputed election in 2008.

“Mr Mbeki’s silence only served to worsen the human rights climate in Zimbabwe and led to a collapse of the economy, whose consequences are still being felt to this day with thousands of Zimbabweans flocking to South Africa to seek economic refugee. The DA will not stand by while Mr Ramaphosa repeats a ‘Quiet Diplomacy 2.0’ strategy that is sure to produce the same results as Mbeki’s ill-thought foreign policy,” he added.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Sunday said he would cut short his five-nation tour and skip the World Economic Forum in Davos to address the crisis.

Meanwhile, South Africa turned down a request from its southern African neighbour for a $1.2 billion loan in December.

This was confirmed by South Africa’s Finance Ministry spokesperson, Jabulani Sikhakhane.

“South Africa doesn’t have that kind of money,” Mr Sikhakhane told Johannesburg's biggest talk-radio, 702.

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