ICC withdrawal: ANC says SA govt has to consult the party first before it reconsiders

The ANC says Cabinet will have to consult the party first before reconsidering the decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), head of elections Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday.

International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu hinted on Wednesday that the government might reconsider the controversial decision.

Sisulu did not mention former president Jacob Zuma by name, but told journalists that the decision that was taken "under the previous administration".

She said it was back on Cabinet's agenda with a view that South Africa could do more to change the skewed bias against Africa in the International Criminal Court, if it remained a party to the Rome Statute.

Mbalula said the decision to withdraw was an ANC decision. It was later confirmed at the December elective conference in Nasrec, Johannesburg.

"We are not micromanaging government, but we must understand that government can express itself at any given point in time. [However], ministers have the responsibility to ensure that their position resonates with the ANC and is guided and given a mandate by the ANC, as the ruling party that has won the election," Mbalula said. 

READ: SA might flip-flop on decision to withdraw from ICC - Lindiwe Sisulu

The South African government attempted to withdraw from the ICC by informing the United Nations of its intention to do so. But it was forced to abandon the process after a court ruled that such a decision had to go through Parliament. 

"The dichotomy of government and the ruling party, and us leading as the ruling party, must always be understood that the ANC is the centre of power," Mbalula said.

"So, the minister is not at fault for what she might have expressed and there are probably cogent reasons why we must stay in the ICC. But we must equally make an evaluation of that going forward and [the] ANC will give guidance. That is what we expect," he said. 

South Africa's fallout with the ICC started after a visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to the country in 2015 to attend the African Union summit.

The government was criticised and taken to court for allowing al-Bashir in the country while he faced an international warrant of arrest for crimes against humanity, and for allowing him to leave once the summit had ended.

South Africa was expected to arrest him as a signatory to the Rome Statute.

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