EFF leader Julius Malema has laid into President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC, saying their U-turn on withdrawing South Africa from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a sign that they are not truly in charge of the country. He said their overnight decision to backtrack on the matter last week was taken after their alleged handlers, “white capital”, allegedly reprimanded and ordered them not to pull out of the Rome statutes, despite the ICC’s perceived impartiality and double standards in rendering international justice.
This morning, Malema weighed in on the government’s handling of the ICC withdrawal plans while speaking to the media on the sidelines of the EFF’s Andries Tatane Clean-up Campaign in Soweto. Insisting that South Africa must turn its back on the ICC, the EFF leader said Russian President Vladimir Putin was welcome in the country and vowed that no one would dare arrest him.
Putin has been invited to the Brics Summit to be held in Gauteng in August despite the ICC issuing a warrant for his arrest, which has been rejected by many in the global south. Malema said the warrant was evidence that the body was “created for anyone who disagrees with America” because George W. Bush and Barack Obama remained free.
“Well, we must get out of (the ICC). The ANC is confused. I have never seen such a confused organisation that is controlled by white capital. The SG (secretary-general Fikile Mbalula) speaks from Luthuli House and says we are moving out of the ICC. The president [Ramaphosa] speaks from the Union Buildings, ‘We are moving out of the ICC,’ on the same day.
“Later in the evening they come back (and) say, ‘There was a mistake committed. We are not leaving the ICC.’ How can the president and the SG commit the same mistake when they are in two separate places at the same time? The white capital that controls the ANC went to reprimand them immediately after they had spoken,” said Malema.
Last week, Ramaphosa had told the media after his bilateral meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö that the governing party had decided to withdraw from the ICC. He spoke after Mbalula said the same at a media briefing held at Luthuli House. Later that night, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, and ANC head of media Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri issued separate statements backtracking on the matter.
Malema said Ramaphosa and Mbalula’s doublespeak and flip flopping had embarrassed South Africa on the global stage.
“What an international embarrassment because this was said in front of a visiting head of state. If you don’t know what these people are doing, just look at what they did the last time about the ICC. “We need to get out of the ICC because there is international inconsistency when it comes to application of the rule of law by the ICC. We cannot have people who committed genocide being free, and America not being a signatory at the ICC, yet we must be a signatory,” Malema said.
“It is very clear that the ICC (was) created for anyone who disagrees with America. We cannot allow that. We cannot allow America to police us by the rules that it cannot follow. Why is George Bush not in prison? Why is (Barrack) Obama not in prison? It is Obama who led the killing of Brother (Muamah) Gaddafi here in Africa.”
The ICC’s credibility has taken centre stage in South Africa after the ICC issued a warrant of arrest against Putin for alleged war crimes on the eve of the Brics summit. The court’s prosecutors claimed Putin was among people responsible for the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russian after the war broke out last year. However, media reports later showed that most of the Ukrainian children were happily living in Russian to escape the war and that their parents had access to them.
Malema also took issue with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde’s statement that he would “facilitate” Putin’s arrest should the Russian leader set foot in his province. Winde was severely criticised for his utterance on social media, with some accusing him of ignorance and trying to score political points since policing was a national competence.
“President Putin is more than welcome here, and no one is going to arrest President Putin. (Anyone) who says (otherwise) is blowing hot air. I don’t think the premier of the Western Cape knows what he is talking about.
“If he wants to meet his maker prematurely, he must try and touch Putin. No one can do that. Not even (US president Joe Biden) can say such a reckless statement when it comes to Putin. Putin is more than welcome here.
“That boy of the Western Cape is a spoiled brat. He just behaves like some young fellow who feels entitled and there is nothing he can do. Putin, as we speak now, is a world hero. Anyone who stands up to the bully, America, is a friend of ours, even if he is not a communist or a socialist, the fact that he is trying to create a situation where there is no (single) big brother,” Malema said.
The EFF Commander In Chief added that South Africa was free because of assistance from the Soviet Union, of which Russia was an integral part.
“Today, we are free because we fought (oppression) with the guns that were given to us by the Soviet Union. Today we cannot turn against our friends who were there for us during a needy time and the most difficult time” he said.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa has appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee to look at the loopholes that can enable South Africa to avoid arresting Putin should he attend the BRICS Summit and advise on ICC options. Deputy President Paul Mashatile has been appointed chairperson of the committee, which has been urged to work at full speed to find legal grounds pertaining to the amendment of statutory legislation relating to the Rome Statute ahead of the summit.
Malema labelled Mashatile’s appointment as a set-up for failure.
“We want to see if he’s got balls. This is a serious test for him. They are setting him up. He must come out of that victorious and on the side of the people. He ought to take a stance, and the ANC’s stance on these matters, historically, has been clear,” he said. “We have always been, as a country, on the side of Russia. I don’t understand why Paul should have difficulty saying Putin must be invited and Putin must be welcomed here in South Africa.”
Presidency spokesperson Magwenya was not immediately available for comment while the governing party’s spokesperson, Bhengu-Motsiri repeatedly did not answer her phone.