File photo: Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, Picture:bMatthews Baloyi

Cape Town – The Democratic Alliance will file an urgent application on Monday for direct access to the Constitutional Court to challenge the constitutionality of a notice initiating South Africa’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The decision taken by the South African government was at odds with the country’s commitment to international justice and human rights and marked a dramatic decline in South Africa’s standing in the international community, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday.

Former president Nelson Mandela had stated South Africa would never again be the “polecat of the world”, but the actions of the African National Congress were fast reducing South Africa’s standing in the global community to that of polecat again, he said.

“Our indefensible voting record at the United Nations, the intention to withdraw from the ICC, and President [Jacob] Zuma’s laughable intention to start a [Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa] BRICS ratings agency are all examples of how this government has reduced our influence and reputation globally.”

Withdrawal from the ICC was the ultimate betrayal of South Africa’s historical commitment to a human rights-based foreign policy. The truth was that under Zuma, South Africa’s foreign policy was increasingly defined by expediency and rogue behaviour.

The DA would argue in the Constitutional Court that:

* the notice of withdrawal was in breach of section 231(2) of the Constitution, as it was delivered without first securing a resolution of Parliament authorising South Africa’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute;

* It was unconstitutional and unlawful to deliver the notice of withdrawal prior to Parliament having first decided to repeal the implementation act;

* the notice of withdrawal was procedurally irrational, as it was delivered without any process of consultation with Parliament and the public; and

* the notice of withdrawal was a breach of the state’s section 7(2) duty to respect, protect, promote, and fulfil the rights contained in the Bill of Rights.

South Africa’s withdrawal from the ICC sent the message that as a country, with global standing, South Africa did not believe in holding those who committed the most horrendous of acts, such as genocide and war crimes, to account, he said.

“We are now siding with murderers and dictators from across the globe. The effectiveness and shortfalls of the ICC should be debated and we should work tirelessly to reform the world body so that it performs its duties without fear, favour, or prejudice, but to withdraw from it entirely undermines efforts to safeguard the rights of citizens here at home and of the international community,” Maimane said.