Very late on Thursday night, the international commission reported back on its deliberations: nothing stupendous or radical in its recommendations. The ANC has to walk a narrow path after all – it wants to run with the big dogs, but can’t upset the movers in the African Union either. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Very late on Thursday night, Lindiwe Zulu, former ambassador to Brazil and a member of the ANC’s subcommittee on international affairs, delivered a speedy report on the international commission’s deliberations. Of all the people who held a press conference on Thursday, hers was probably the easiest job. The commission basically re-affirmed all of the ANC’s positions on international affairs.
In Zimbabwe, the ANC wants to continue to have a special relationship with Zanu-PF, as a former liberation movement. At the same time, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has delegated the South African government to conduct negotiations between the three top parties in Zimbabwe. The ANC therefore resolved to be as fair as possible to all sides in those negotiations. Contradictions would be avoided by ensuring that Zanu-PF was engaged with on a party level, while the government held talks between Zanu-PF, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Mutambara faction of the MDC.
The ANC has affirmed its support for the underdog in the Morocco/Western Sahara conflict, the Cuba/USA conflict, and also in Swaziland. The party seems to be of two minds with regards to South Africa’s tiny neighbour. On the one hand, it is clearly perturbed by the human rights violations (and Zulu went on a lengthy shopping list of violations) but it knows that it cannot act like a cowboy because it will poison its relationship with the rest of the continent.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s nomination as commissioner of the African Union has been endorsed by the ANC. The home affairs minister failed to secure an outright victory over the incumbent Jean Ping earlier on this year, and there are fears that the second election, to be held in July, will reach a similar stalemate.
Zulu said that the commission wanted the International Criminal Court to stop focusing on Africa alone when deciding to prosecute people for human rights violations. Though she was probed strongly on who else might qualify, she refused to name names. “We must be clear that we are not saying that South Africa or the ANC is against the ICC. But there must be a better balance of people who are taken to it,” she said.
The ANC affirmed the department of trade and industry’s decision to call for products that bear Israel’s stamp, while being produced in Palestine, to be properly labelled. The commission called for a greater boycott of Israeli members.
A business code of conduct may soon pass for South African countries operating on the continent. Apparently this idea came after many countries complained about the behaviour of our companies there. However, the ANC has agreed that it also needs to protect South Africa’s national interest, and should not pass a code that sabotages our companies in comparison to those of Europe, America or Asia. Funnily enough, the bribe debacle of MTN was not discussed at all during the commission, Zulu said. The question was asked because prominent ANC member Cyril Ramaphosa is heavily invested in MTN – perhaps it didn’t occur to anyone to ask.
So, no changes in ANC policy whatsoever. It really does feel like outside of government, the party isn’t all that interested in international affairs. It keeps passing the same resolutions at every congress – with a few cosmetic tweaks, granted – but this particular document could have come from the Polokwane conference, or the last national general council. DM
Photo: Lindiwe Zulu (Greg Nicolson/iMaverick)