Zuma signs 16 bilateral agreements with Al-Bashir

A day after the DA’s failed bid to impeach President Jacob Zuma over the government’s handling of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s visit to the country, the Presidency released a statement confirming that the two leaders met in an effort to strengthen ties between the two countries.

“President Jacob Zuma has today met with President Omer Al-Bashir of the Republic of the Sudan to discuss strengthening relations between South Africa and Sudan, on the margins of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese Peoples’ War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, taking place in Beijing, in The Peoples’ Republic China. 

“South Africa and Sudan enjoy warm bilateral relations. Sixteen bilateral agreements have been concluded between the two countries to date,” said the statement.

Official engagements between the two countries began in February, but have now been elevated to a ministerial level.

“South Africa seeks to further strengthen cooperation with Sudan in the fields of agriculture, agro-processing, science and technology, energy, infrastructure development, mining and retail.”

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni told the Mail & Guardian earlier this week, “Once you raise the Omar al-Bashir issue, the African and Pan African issue stands up.”

The DA’s bid to impeach Zuma was not supported by other opposition parties in Parliament on Tuesday.

During the impeachment debate, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the DA was welcome go ahead with its motion without his party’s support. “We are not supporting the DA. The UN and others are out of order,” he said.

Holomisa said the motion to impeach Zuma was just a “hullabaloo” and unnecessary “noise”.

“We are clear from the word go that the United Nations Security Council recommended that Bashir be arrested and prosecuted in the ICC … We said why don’t you arrest Bashir in Darfur where the UN security forces are in Sudan protecting Bashir and his government?”

Early in August, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema applauded Zuma for protecting al-Bashir: “Mr President, on al-Bashir I am happy you did not arrest him. We were not going to agree on the arrest of an African leader in South Africa, to polarise Africa and make South Africa the enemy of the whole of Africa,” he said.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said of al-Bashir: “He joins the ranks of genocidal dictators from across the globe – Hilter of Germany, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Stalin of the Soviet Union and Chairman Mao of the People’s Republic of China. These are the big men of our times. And, like all bullies, they are broken men. Broken men presiding over broken societies.”

Bashir is wanted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. In the Darfur region, he oversaw the War in Darfur, which resulted in estimated death tolls of about 10 000 according to the Sudanese Government, but most sources suggest between 200 000 and 400 000.

The civil war displaced more than 2.5-million people out of a total population of 6.2-million.

The Presidency was not available for further comment by the time of publishing this article.

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