BY EVA MWINE
From glass houses of financial incompetence and greed, built on crumbling foundations of debt, Western analysts continue to throw stones of patronising judgment, voicing their cynical opinions about South Africaâ€™s new preside
From glass houses of financial incompetence and greed, built on crumbling foundations of debt, Western analysts continue to throw stones of patronising judgment, voicing their cynical opinions about South Africaâ€™s new president, Jacob Zuma.
â€˜Immoral, corrupt, uneducated, polygamist, former goat herder and tribal dancerâ€™ are some of the words that have been used by the media to introduce Zuma to the Western world.
Many Africans have swallowed this opinion hook, line and sinker, forgetting that behind the plasma screens that transmitted Zumaâ€™s swearing-in ceremony was an incredible depth of history that continues to propel Africa along an evolutionary journey.
Liberiaâ€™s Dr. Edward Blyden described the African well when he said: â€œWe fight at the disadvantage which David would have experienced in Saulâ€™s armour.â€
Where Thabo Mbeki and the African Union have been silent, Zuma has already indicated that he will not support and protect Africaâ€™s tyrants and dictators; coming from a strong African leader, this is a lot more palatable than it is from Nicholas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown.
The London Times, before Zumaâ€™s inauguration, quoted a South African diplomatic source as saying Zuma â€œhas already indicated that President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, who has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, will not be welcome at his inauguration.â€
Africa is grappling with the double standards of a flawed and lop-sided international justice system that has seen the International Criminal Court (ICC) exercise its jurisdiction almost exclusively in Africa.
Like the malaria pill that is part and parcel of African living, the ruling against Bashir was sugar-coated but bitter on the inside. It was a catch 22 for Africa â€” do we support the arrest warrant as a show of solidarity for the suffering in Darfur or do we speak out against the selective global justice that grants George Bush a golfing retirement while the likes of Jean Pierre Bemba are incarcerated in European prisons.
One of the most famous opponents of the principle of universal jurisdiction was Henry Kissinger who said, almost prophetically: â€œUniversal jurisdiction risks creating universal tyranny â€” that of the judgesâ€™.
When Zuma, a pan-Africanist well known in South Africa for his negotiating skills and diplomatic tact, becomes the president of the most powerful African nation, one can expect the continent to reap dividends in the struggle to level the ground of international justice, economics and politics.
Africaâ€™s frustration and discontent with the phenomenon of â€˜unjust justiceâ€™ is mutating into Pan African fundamentalism which condones the actions of the Mugabes and Bashirs.
With the onset of the global economic down-turn, African leaders must develop an â€˜up- turnâ€™ in confidence. There is no better time than now to take on the West over the blatant contradictions that have characterised international justice for years.
As Zuma condemns Bashir, he must, together with other African leaders, call for a restructuring of the conceptual frame work of international justice to empower the ICC to exercise its authority across the spectrum, from Downing Street to Darfur, from Joseph Kony to Donald Rumsfeld.
Where Zuma is predicted to be weak, Africans should give him the benefit of the doubt, where he is strong Africa should ride the tide of his presidency as it renegotiates its position in a rapidly changing world order.
The writer is a freelance journalist.
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Africa has a lot to gain from Zumaâ€™s win