By Stan Sandler
The old African proverb that when two elephants tussle, it’s the grass that suffers, has forever stood the test of time.
That the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stopped short of pronouncing on an immediate ceasefire in Gaza speaks volumes, and must suggest that the events of October 7 did warrant repercussions and revenge by Israel.
One can, however, lament on the aggression. War is futile, amoral, immoral and unethical, and the loss of life of the vulnerable is regrettable, no matter what the initial provocation.
But that is another conversation. Maybe being a pedant allows me to have some slight variants to the pronouncements of the ICJ. The ICJ unequivocally stated there is prima facie evidence of genocide committed by Israel.
That allowed for rejoicing by the South African contingent, as this was the thrust of their proposal brought before the ICJ.
However, to my way of thinking, this elation is somewhat misplaced and premature.
The term, prima facie, used by the ICJ, suggests no more that than on first impression only there is a suggestion of genocidal intent, but not absolute and unequivocal evidence of genocidal intent. Only new and as such unnamed incriminating evidence could satisfy a conclusion of absolute genocidal intent.
Then we have the hypocrisy and short-term memory loss of President [Cyril] Ramaphosa, and in particular that of [International Relations] Minister [Naledi] Pandor.
In an interview with journalists after the pronouncements of the ICJ, Minister Pandor stated in no uncertain terms that the verdict of the ICJ in South Africa’s favour should be upheld by all countries and by all peoples.
In this regard Minister, where were you and President Ramaphosa, the government and the ANC, when Omar al-Bashir, on his controversial visit to South Africa in 2015, attended an African Union Summit in Johannesburg.
This man became the first head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for conducting a campaign of mass killing, rape and pillage against civilians in Darfur.
The ICC had issued a warrant for his arrest alluding to genocide while displacing over two million people!
The ICC’s decision was opposed by virtually every Arab nation, including Palestine!
Minister Pandor, you knew all of this; Presidents Zuma and Ramaphosa and all the ANC knew of this. Yet you remained silent, you disregarded the voice of the ICC.
You and the ANC will remain complicit in failing to arrest al-Bashir and wittingly covering up his smuggling out of the country. In the South African legal system, criminal law attributes blame to participants who have been implicit or explicit by agreement to commit an unlawful act. The entire ANC government should be charged under the same legal doctrine of common purpose.
There cannot be two different sets of rules!