Zuma, al-Bashir meeting sees mixed reactions

Despite controversy over al-Bashir’s visit to South Africa a few months ago, Zuma has now met with him.

FILE: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) shakes hands with South African President Jacob Zuma. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - There's been mixed reaction to the news that President Jacob Zuma has met with his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir with some vehemently against the meeting and others saying African leaders should be allowed to speak to each other whenever they want.

Despite controversy over al-Bashir's visit to South Africa a few months ago, Zuma has now met with the Sudanese leader, where they committed themselves to strengthening ties.

The meeting was held in Beijing against the backdrop of China's victory celebrations.

The Presidency says Zuma and al-Bashir have committed to working together in the fields of agriculture, science, energy and mining.

The Democratic Alliance's Mmusi Maimane says Zuma is building relations with a wanted criminal.

"President Zuma is set on building relations with someone who is wanted for war crimes and genocide."

But the Economic Freedom Fighters' Fana Mokoena says the continents politics should not be dictated to by foreign bodies.

"We have no objections what-so-ever to African leaders speaking to each other."

South Africa and Sudan continue to enjoy warm bilateral relations, even after government ignored an international arrest warrant, and allowed al-Bashir to leave South Africa when he attended the African Union summit earlier this year.

The Sudanese leader is wanted on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide.


Defying an International Criminal Court (ICC) order for his detention, the Sudanese president started his four-day visit to China on Monday.

His trip is driven more by necessity than bravado.

China's economic downturn is hitting Sudan's already unstable economic and political situation.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said China's invited President al-Bashir to visit for discussions on bilateral relations and to meet expatriate Sudanese living in China.

Gandour said Sudan was on the list of the top countries in Africa that are economically dealing with China.

He said China supported Sudan in its very dark days when Sudan was let down by the US, including extracting Sudanese oil.

He added that China helped Sudan in oil refinery and other economic endeavours.


The Democratic Alliance (DA)'s bid to have Zuma removed from office failed on Tuesday.

The party wanted an ad-hoc committee to investigate whether the president should be impeached for the failure to arrest al-Bashir.

When it came to the vote on Tuesday night, there were just 100 votes in favour, 211 against, and 17 abstentions.

Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) abstained from voting after agreeing that the president should go, but for reasons other than the al-Bashir debacle… including the Marikana massacre and wasteful spending on Nkandla.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane accused Zuma of trampling on the Constitution and the rule of law.

"Our broken president broke the law to protect yet another broken man."

Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery went on the offensive.

"You are a hollow man, presiding over a hollow party, making empty promises with the sole aim of grabbing headlines."

The African National Congress insisted that arresting al-Bashir would have imperiled South Africa's relations with the rest of Africa.