SA bordering on rogue diplomacy‚ says Pityana

07 January 2017 - 15:44 By TMG Digital
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Sipho Pityana did not hide his disdain for Zuma.
Sipho Pityana did not hide his disdain for Zuma.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Save SA leader and businessman Sipho Pityana on Saturday charged that South Africa was bordering on rogue diplomacy and propagating impunity for perpetrators of war crimes and human rights abuses.

As a nation that had once held moral authority in the world and commanded tremendous respect‚ South Africa was now as discredited as the leader it continued to keep at the helm -- with disastrous consequences‚ he asserted.

Pityana was speaking in Pretoria at the funeral service for the late Kenyan academic Professor Rok Ajulu. Ajula‚ who was married to Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu‚ died on Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. In his tribute to Ajula‚ Pityana said his biggest take away from the Kenyan academic’s life was that he was an internationalist who truly understood the concept of international solidarity – “and deployed it with admirable altruism‚ generosity and dedication”.

Pityana questioned whether South Africa could truly claim to have been on the same journey of internationalism and solidarity as Ajuju when it had “abandoned the nations of Africa and supported UN Resolution 1973‚ which resulted in the air bombardment of Libya and the gruesome murder of Ghadaffi”.

“Can we absolve ourselves from the continued conflict and instability in that country which has resulted from that escapade? “Are we still internationalists when we deny the Dalai Lama right of entry to a free South Africa‚ even when invited by the doyen of our liberation struggle‚ Archbishop Desmond Tutu?” he asked.

“No doubt‚ many who formed part of that international solidarity movement‚ Rok included‚ would have been puzzled‚ if not deeply disappointed that a country whose constitution affirms LGBTI rights‚ would abstain at the UN Human Rights Commission when a motion proposing these rights is tabled. Or that‚ as a country that places a premium on the right to access to information‚ we would at the same Commission vote against a motion for Internet freedoms that are denied to so many in the world?”

Pityana added that South Africa had made strides and built a fantastic reputation as an active player in promoting world peace.

“But we are now in a realm where private business interests connected to some of our political leaders are allegedly pursued in countries like the Central Africa Republic and the DRC among others‚ at the same time as we have ostensibly deployed personnel for capacity building and peace keeping.

“Have we forgotten about the murderous crusade of the Al-Bashir Regime of Sudan or the Rwandan genocide‚ the bloody escapades of Charles Taylor in Liberia‚ and the many others?

“Should the perpetrators of these war crimes and human rights abuses‚ and many more who may contemplate the same‚ not be brought to book? “We must accept that‚ in attempting to exit the International Criminal Court‚ we are seen to have chosen the side of the perpetrators of abuses‚ and callously and cold heartedly turned our backs on the victims.

And we have done so without doing anything to establish an African Court on Human Rights.” In the same way‚ the country could be accused of turning a blind eye to the reign of terror and human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

“This is a blight on our nation’s constant assertions that we endeavour to create a better world; and yet our neighbour right next door‚ on our watch‚ has plunged a great country into a dungeon of misery and strife. “The truth is that we are bordering on rogue diplomacy.

We are propagating impunity‚” Pityana asserted. He added that Ajulu‚ like an increasing number of South Africans‚ would be right to feel betrayed‚ when the leadership of a country that emerged as a beacon of hope was suddenly doing everything to turn its back on these fundamental values.

 “And it is not just the ANC that is at fault. How can we be genuine about our fight against xenophobia when the recommendations of the Human Rights Commission are ignored; when leaders like the Mayor of Johannesburg imagine that every illegal immigrant is a criminal‚ and there is not even a word of reprimand from his party‚ which claims to be a champion of the constitution?

“The reality is that the betrayal of the values of our nation‚ as enshrined in our Constitution‚ is also carried out in the international arena by a leadership that does not think honour and integrity count for much.

And so‚ in the same way that our Constitution and our sovereignty are disrespected‚ so too are our international principles. “Consequently‚ South Africa -- a nation that held moral authority in the world and commanded tremendous respect -- is now as discredited as the leader it continues to keep at the helm -- with disastrous consequences‚” Pityana stated‚ adding that it was not too late to save the country.

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