Peace and stability more important than justice: Zulu

24 June 2015 - 12:18 By RDM News Wire

Lindiwe Zulu invoked the words of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro for Tuesday’s parliamentary debate on the presence of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir at the African Union Summit in South Africa. The Minister of Small Business said Castro’s 1953 statement that “history will absolve me” was relevant “in the context of the swelling condemnation against our government by those bent on distorting our hard-earned commitments to human rights and respect of the rule of law”.Bashir is wanted on an International Criminal Court warrant for alleged war crimes. South Africa‚ as a signatory to the Rome Statute‚ is obliged to execute the warrant.While not specifically mentioning the government’s ignoring of a Gauteng high court order for the arrest of Bashir‚ who was allowed to leave the country‚ Zulu said: “Africa’s newest state‚ the Republic of South Sudan‚ would not be in existence today had the parties placed the issue of justice above all others”.According to her “draft speaking notes” distributed on Tuesday night‚ she qualified this by saying: “This does not mean that there is no role for justice for victims of conflicts. It means that recognising the complexities inherent in conflict resolution‚ it is best to address the question of justice in the context of a political settlement”.Putting justice ahead of all other elements‚ Zulu postured‚ was “counter-productive ends…as the belligerents have no incentive to settle disputes for fear that they will be locked up the day after the resolution of the conflict”.“Speaker‚ South Africa’s track record in contributing to finding lasting and peaceful solutions to the challenges faced by our continent speaks for itself‚ and again‚ history will absolve us.”She cited “interventions in the Burundi peace process‚ the DRC‚ and the Great Lakes region; to our facilitation processes in Zimbabwe‚ Lesotho‚ Madagascar and our ongoing efforts to resolve the conflict in South Sudan” as examples of SA’s “commitment to the promotion of peace‚ stability and development on the continent”.Zulu went on state that SA “was instrumental in the establishment” of the ICC”‚ but argued that it was “largely as a result of our own efforts as Africans (that) the continent is more peaceful than it was in 1990”.She conceded that there was still much work to do.“However‚ we have not yet managed to silence the guns. Indeed‚ we are still far from successfully addressing conflict-producing factors in many parts of the continent‚” said Zulu.“Speaker‚ this festival of condemnation that has arisen out of President Bashir’s attendance to the AU Summit has sought to impose a disjuncture between the attainment of peace on the one hand and justice on the other‚” she concluded. “It should therefore be noted that‚ our efforts for the renewal of the continent will remain void if the fundamentals elements which include peace and stability are not realised. Peace and stability is therefore an important ingredient for development.”

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