The decision by the Jacob Zuma government of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) not to get involved in the arrest and prosecution of the three former police officers of the South African Defense Forces (SADF) flown into Ghana at the invitation of the leaders of the latter country’s main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP),for purposes of training security details and other political activists belonging to the Akufo-Addo-led NPP, is strikingly reminiscent of the warning given by Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama, then doubling as ECOWAS Chairman, to protesters demonstrating against the protracted and extortionate regime of Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Campaore in the streets of Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital, not quite a while ago.
The Ghanaian leader would shortly and embarrassingly be exposed for his reprehensible politics of blind cronyism. Well, those of us who have been studiously following affairs between Ghana and post-Apartheid South Africa are well aware of the fact that both President Mahama and President Zuma are thoroughgoing corrupt politicians, at least by the informed judgment of the majority of the citizens in both countries, who appear to have grossly overstayed their welcome and shall soon be constitutionally bumped off the scene. Both leaders are also neck-deep mired in scandals that seem to have brought them to the nadir of their popularity in recent months. They are also very good friends. Talk of birds of same feathers.
In deciding not to get involved in the case of the three South African nationals, on the dubious grounds that the case brought against them by the Mahama government is a patently criminal case, Pretoria may be making the egregious mistake of flagrantly shirking its bounden obligation and responsibility of ensuring that the fundamental civil and human rights of its citizens are respected wherever these citizens may find themselves, including arrest and prosecution in Ghana, of course. In other words, Mr. Zuma and his executive appointees ought to open their eyes to the inescapable fact that in every civilized constitutional democracy, even the most notorious and detested criminal suspects and defendants deserve a fair hearing and trial.
Mr. Nelson Kgwete, the Media Liaison Director in charge of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, who spoke on behalf of the Zuma government cannot casually presume that these indicted South African citizens will be granted a fair hearing by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Ghana. One hopes their local representatives have been studiously following judicial proceedings in Ghana, at least during the last couple years, and been communicating their assessments to the leaders of the government at home. At the barest minimum, the Zuma government should dispatch legal experts and human rights advocates to monitor judicial proceedings in Ghana.
It is also rather bizarre for Mr. Kgwete, the media liaison for President Zuma, to assert that since the three former SADF officers are not members of the ANC government, this case has absolutely no diplomatic aspect to it. The truth of the matter is that these indicted men never renounced their South African citizenship when they decided to travel to Ghana at the express invitation of the leaders of that country’s main opposition New Patriotic Party.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of the case, there are bound to be scores to settle with Pretoria, in the highly likely event of an Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party being voted into power or sworn in come January 2017, if care is not taken to ensure that these legitimate guests of the Ghanaian opposition leadership are afforded a fair trial.
It is also very ironic that the leader of a globally reputed political party, the oldest of its kind on the continent, to be certain, whose epic struggle against the erstwhile white racist Apartheid regime was singularly guided by fundamental human rights, should now claim to be totally unconcerned about the same.
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