CAPE TOWN, The opposition Inkatha Freedom Party has rejected a statement issued by the Chairman of the South African Parliamentary Committee on International Relations and Co-operation, Siphosezwe Masango, about the ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on South Africa’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in keeping with its obligations under Rome Statute which established the ICC.

Masango’s statement should not be accepted as the official position of the parliamentary committee, says IFP spokesman Mkhuleko Hlengwa said. The views expressed by the chairperson were his own myopic views on a gravely serious matter, and therefore the IFP considers the chairperson’s statement to be an abuse of office and position, anchored in reckless and irresponsible conduct. The IFP distances itself from the chairpersons statement, he said over the weekend.

He added that the IFP would accordingly raise the matter with the Speaker of the National Assembly and other parliamentary bodies, including the parliamentary committee. The IFP maintained that the government’s intention to withdraw from the ICC was ill-advised, and grinds against the grain of global peace and international justice, Hlengwa said.

On Friday, the country’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), also lashed out at Masango for what it called the abuse of the national legislature’s communications machinery.

Masango, who is from the ruling African National Congress (ANC), had said in a statement Thursday, purportedly from all MPs represented on the parliamentary committee, that South Africa was justified in not arresting al-Bashir when he visited South Africa for an African Union (AU) summit in 2015.

His statement was in reaction to a ruling by the ICC which found South Africa, a signatory to the Rome Statute, had failed in its obligations to arrest and surrender al-Bashir following a request from The Hague-based court.

The chairperson cannot purport to speak on behalf of his committee. It is a multi-party forum and such pronouncements can only be made once resolutions have actually been taken by the committee. The ICC court ruling has not been brought to Parliament and as such these statements are wholly false, said DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.

Steenhuisen said the statement was an attempt to mitigate the negative publicity generated by the ICC ruling.

Masango’s statement released on Thursday said: If this ruling is insistent that South Africa ought to have arrested the President of Sudan, then that is justification enough for the South African government to leave the ICC as a matter of urgency.


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