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There is a silent conflict blowing between the Africa Union (AU) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). This conflict started after the ICC indicted some untouchables namely heads of states. AU urged its all 34 members to exit ICC. All in attendance agreed with this move except Botswana, that did not see any logic in exiting ICC.

Since independence, African presidents took the role and place of the colonial governors who were above the law. They too decided to be above the law so that they could lord it over their earthlings. And, indeed, they have always done that for decades. Essentially, they became new black colonialists replacing old white ones. To successfully do their things, they made sure that their constitutions clearly stipulate that the president is above law.

This colonial carry over, if anything, is the one that is disturbing African potentates, even after unwillingly consenting to multiparty democracy for those that bother to have it. Due to their newfound infallibility, many African dictators became gods in their own light. Insane and sacrilegious as it may seem and sound, untouchability and sacredness became the symbols and prerogatives of African rulers. Ironically, when such infallible and untouchable rulers appended their signatures to ratify the ICC, they did not know that their licenses to do as pleased would be wound up. They did not know that they wouldn’t have any power whatsoever nor any way they could interfere in ICC business as they just used to do with their judiciaries.

Ethiopia stole the thunder in this onslaught against ICC. Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted as spewing bile saying, “What the summit decided is that President Kenyatta should not appear until the requests we have made is actually answered.” Again, the AU proved to be fully throwing its weight behind indictees. What the AU did not get is the fact that what they advised Kenyatta to amounts to contempt of the court, something which guarantees an arrest, if not opening new charges against their sacred cow. What makes AU’s calculations difficult to decipher is the role it has played in crises resulting from human rights violation such as genocide that was committed on Dafuris in Sudan. On the one hand, it fully supports Sudanese strong man Omar Bashir saying he should not be prosecuted. On the other hand, the same AU sent its forces to Darfur to stop genocide.

Ghebreyesus added his salvo against ICC saying, “The unfair treatment that we have been subjected to by the ICC is completely unacceptable.” Ghebreyesus did not explain more on how ICC unfairly treated or maltreated Africa. Such lack of explicit and lamenting forced wise people such as Kofi Annan, former UN secretary General to refer to AU’s hanky panky “badge of shame.” Indeed it is a badge of shame which former Archbishop Desmond Tutu reprimanded saying, “Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence.” Annan and Tutu know our rulers too well. They have worked with them for long. They know how they behave like babies who poop in diapers and start crying while they actually are the ones who created the mess they are in. The reasonable and important thing to do for African rulers is stop thinking backwardly. Stop your gross violations of human rights. Stop behaving like babies by accusing the West of neo-colonialism and still kow tow before it asking for AID to enable you to rule your people. Stop serving two masters, your thirsty opposition of western-originated system of governing and cup-in-hand begging missions to the West. Nobody calls you. You present yourselves. I would applaud the AU‘s move of exiting ICC shall it go in conjunction with stopping begging and doing under-table deals.

I’d urge Kenyatta and William Ruto to pooh pooh AU’s advice for their safety. Shall they heed AU’s malice aforethought to break the law, it is for their peril. The voice of reason says that law is not politics. They need to understand and underscore that the ICC is the court of law, but not the court of politics. We in the legal trade normally agree with a Swahili sage that the law is like a saw. It cuts both sides.

“As for the men in power, they are so anxious to establish the myth of infallibility that they do their utmost to ignore truth,” Boris Pasternak (1890-1960). Will the Truth with a capital “T” ignore them? What a lie one lies to himself thinking all will buy it! Is truly the ICC targeting Africa or vice versa?

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.

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