Schussler: ICC exit will add to SA's economic woes | Fin24

Schussler: ICC exit will add to SA's economic woes

Oct 21 2016 20:20
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) will add to the country’s mounting economic challenges, an economist said on Friday.

The impact on the economy will be indirect and will take time to reflect, Mike Schussler, director of Economists Dotcoza, told Fin24.

He said if South Africa officially leaves by 2018, there could be a “slight downward adjustment in competitive rankings and transparency rankings” in 2019.

Schussler said ranking indicators like Transparency International and Economic Freedom would reflect this withdrawal over time. South Africa could see other rankings dip because they would feel less protected in the country.

However, he said the country has some of the best minority shareholder protection and transparency of financial accounting in the world. “This will remain a strong point of SA."

South Africa is currently ranked 47th out of 138 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Index.

Schussler said a few positions lower could see South Africa drop out of the top 50. “As many countries are close to us, a few points difference could see SA drop a few places,” he said. “That may mean that we drop off the radar of a few more investors.

“This is not good as, along with a credit downgrade and other political infighting issues, this may just see our ranking drop even more,” he said.

“[It is] another piece of bad news, I think, and that in line with so many other pieces of bad news is not good for the SA economy.”

ICC 'hindered diplomacy in Africa' - minister

Justice Minister Michael Masutha said on Friday that a bill will be tabled in Parliament proposing the repeal of the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act.

Masutha said the court hindered South Africa’s efforts as a founding member of the African Union, where it “plays an important role in resolving conflicts”.

South Africa’s Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act gives “diplomatic immunity of heads of state” to assist in resolving these conflicts, Masutha said.

The Rome Statute demands that South Africa hand over anyone on the wanted list and this, said Masutha, was in conflict with the above act.

South Africa’s decision to cut ties with the court follows a dispute last year over a visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. He is wanted by the court for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Cape Chamber expresses grave concern

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Friday that is gravely concerned at the withdrawal.

“Our country should be a role model for accountability of crimes against innocent people,” said Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber.

Kenya was the first country to withdraw after its leaders were charged and although these charges were subsequently dropped, it is alarming that South Africa might be contributing to a trend for African countries to withdraw, she explained.

"We accept the fact that the majority of cases appearing before the court are African; however, these are referred to the ICC by the countries themselves," the chamber said.

Myburgh said the question to ask is: “Are our leaders focused on protecting themselves at the expense of providing a safe and secure environment for all its citizens?

"It’s about holding people to account - an aspect of a healthy society that we should never lose as a country. We already set a bad example over the Bashir incident which was described as 'disgraceful conduct' by the Supreme Court of Appeal."

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