Johannesburg – The ANC on Wednesday disagreed with a court decision not to allow government to appeal a ruling that it acted unconstitutionally when it did not arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Opposition parties welcomed the ruling made by the High Court in Pretoria.
“We are of the view that government must appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Appeal,” ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.
“The AU [African Union] has the same status as the UN [United Nations] when it comes to immunities with other multi-national institutions with respect to participation.”
He said the AU should not be treated differently from accepted international practices.
Three judges of the High Court in Pretoria ruled on Wednesday that the Implementation Act did not give heads of state immunity from prosecution on criminal charges.
On June 15, the High Court ordered that government arrest Bashir when he was in Johannesburg for an AU summit but despite the court order, he left the country.
The ICC had issued a warrant of arrest for Bashir and wanted him to stand trial on charges of war crimes and genocide.
The Democratic Alliance said it was pleased the court had taken a principled legal stand on what it called a “flagrant abuse of power and disregard for due process and the rule of law”.
“The court’s decision to dismiss, with costs, the government’s baseless bid to appeal the judgment on the al-Bashir escape is a damning indictment of the government’s deliberate decision to let al-Bashir leave our country in the first place,” DA MP James Selfe said in a statement.
“Indeed the South African government should have never invited President al-Bashir to our shores much less facilitate his state-sanctioned escape knowing full well its obligations to international and domestic law.”
Selfe said the court’s decision should serve as a warning to President Jacob Zuma and his Cabinet that the Sudanese president should not be invited back to South Africa.
On Tuesday, Zuma announced that al-Bashir could return to South Africa later this year for the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation, which South Africa would host in December.
The Congress of the People said the high court had made the right decision.
“The ruling party of today has no regard for the rule of law and it certainly makes laws for other to comply with without being equally bound to do the same,” Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said in a statement.
“The courts must uphold the Constitution and compel the government to do the same.”