By Nkosana Dlamini
Harare, October 14, 2013 – President Robert Mugabe is not (yet) an International Criminal Court (ICC) candidate despite fertile grounds for such warrant.
But he has joined Kenyan and Sudanese leaders in calls for an all-African ICC pull-out citing anti-African tendencies by The Hague based tribunal.
What is interesting though is his intensity and sheer duplicity when he plunges headlong into what had initially been an argument by the two countries to make it, by association or otherwise, his own.
Through analysing Mugabe’s personal circumstances, it is easy to tell whether he is talking from a position of principle or he is simply considering his personal circumstances.
Infact, Mugabe and his government failed to domesticate the Rome Statute which operationalised the ICC way before the “racist” character of the court became apparent. Against such a background, the principle card is remote.
Panting and swearing, Zimbabwe’s octogenarian but eloquent leader took to the African stage availed by a weekend African Union (AU) extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa to pour his frustrations on the ICC for its perceived bias.
He was bargaining for nothing less than a complete pull-out.
As expected, he forgot to prescribe solutions on how millions of rape, abduction, torture and summary killing victims in the hands of crude African despots could also get the same justice.
In their sorry case, they do not have the immunity of sitting presidents Mugabe so desires, least of all the dignity of a court appearance African leaders would choose to shy away from.
If they had a choice, the estimated 20 000 villagers in Kezi and Tsholotsho in Matabeleland provinces would have even opted for the authority of kangaroo courts to state their case if it meant saving their bellies from being slit open by the North Korean trained Filth Brigade in the early 1980s.
Indeed if they had a choice, victims of the 2008 state sponsored violence among them Jestina Mukoko and Nigel Mutemagawu dubbed the “world’s youngest terrorist” would have preferred the same ICC as opposed to being petrol bombed by state sponsored gangs that still roam their villages.
By advocating an ICC pull out by his country, Mugabe can be reminded that this may not be the collective sentiment of the people he leads and certainly not those beyond our geographical borders.
It is frustrating to see how African history is so littered with crude dictators who never saw their day in the dock.
Instead, when the hour to face justice came, they ran into the arms of fellow dictators and later died of natural causes while comfortably ensconced in distant mansions.
Former Ugandan sadist Idi Amin died in 2003 in exile in Saudi Arabia, Mobutu Sese Seko of the former Zaire died in 1997 in Morocco while in exile.
By the way, these individuals were running away from the same justice systems that they themselves set up during their rule; certainly not the so-despised Hague.
Lest we forget, only recently, it took the collective effort of brave citizens in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to free themselves from long serving despots.
I do not remember Mugabe praising the citizens for this decisive action although he would use any platform, even funerals, to eulogise those he worked with to free blacks from white colonial bondage.
Mugabe must remember that it is always difficult for leaders to get justice in the own countries as these would usually hand pick loyalists to the bench.
But while this is an argument that has been well articulated in different fora by world renowned luminaries such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former UN secretary-general Koffi Annan, l can only focus my energies on our own unique circumstances as Zimbabweans.
Granted Mugabe has a case that serving leaders must not be brought to court, what would he say about his government which is harbouring exiled and former Ethiopian President Mengistu Haile Mariam in a Harare mansion.
Mengistu might as well be surrendered, not to the Hague, but to Ethiopians. He is no longer serving and should definitely be called to account for his transgressions.
Infact, for one fleeting moment, l wished l was Ethiopian, just for this past weekend. I would have taken advantage of the Addis Ababa summit to ask Mugabe to walk his talk through surrendering Mengistu. At least this would not be a race issue.
Granted Mugabe has a case is advocating the sparing of serving leaders, what is his response to instances where some leaders would cling on to power for decades, putting paid to any hopes of an ICC appearance in their lives.
If this is not convincing enough to prove Mugabe is two-faced, perhaps claims by his opponents that his own government pursues selective justice against them should suffice.
Since the dark period of Gukurahundi, Mugabe’s regime has been accused of staging summary incarcerations, torture and extra judicial methods such as killings on perceived enemies.
Mugabe has hounded political opponents into exile and further appointed loyalists into the country’s domestic courts. He has gone further to force the closure of the SADC tribunal which provided an outside remedy to fellow Southern Africans seeking justice.
If this is not appalling duplicity by a President, then what is?