Justice Minister Michael Masutha has formally withdrawn South Africa’s decision to pull out of the International Criminal Court. File picture

Johannesburg – Justice Minister Michael Masutha has formally withdrawn South Africa’s decision to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This has ended months of speculation after an earlier decision by the government to pull out.

Masutha confirmed in Parliament on Tuesday that the country would not withdraw from the ICC. The DA has welcomed the decision.

Last week, in the portfolio committee on international relations, ANC MP Bheki Hadebe warned that the withdrawal from the Rome Statute would be back on the agenda in Parliament in a year.

He said the country would still insist on withdrawing from the ICC. But the DA said on Tuesday this was the best decision the government had taken, and it fully endorsed it.

Speaker Baleka Mbete said in a note in Parliament that Masutha was withdrawing the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Repeal Bill.

The bill would have started the process for South Africa to withdraw from the ICC.

DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe said the ANC had made the decision to pull out of the ICC in haste, and the party was glad sanity had prevailed.

“The DA welcomes the decision today by the cabinet to withdraw the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Bill,” said Selfe.

“The DA believes that in light of the recent high court decision, and now the decision of the cabinet to withdraw this bill, we should all take the opportunity to step back and properly assess the situation,” he said.

The DA accused the ANC of abandoning the principles of human rights by trying to block the arrest of leaders wanted for serious human rights violations.

Selfe said they hoped the government would stick with the course of protecting human rights.

Today Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will face questions in the National Council of Provinces on the withdrawal decision.

The government came under fire from opposition parties in Parliament after its initial decision to withdraw from the ICC.

This followed a legal battle with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre to arrest Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. The government was heavily criticised for allowing Bashir to leave the country in 2015 despite a court order.

Opposition parties accused the ANC of protecting Bashir against the international criminal justice system.

President Jacob Zuma defended the government’s decision several times in Parliament, saying Bashir was in the country on AU business, and it would not have been appropriate to arrest him.

Political Bureau