South Africa has not received any formal request for asylum from ousted Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Parliament has heard.Luwellyn Landers, deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation said social media rumours that Mugabe has or would request asylum in South Africa were not true.
“At this point, there is no indication if he or anyone else has requested asylum. Until that happens, the views on the matter are just that,” Landers told Parliament in Cape Town.
Landers also addressed the potential consequences for former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe’s assault case before the South Gauteng High Court, were Mugabe to receive asylum from the South African
“The case against the first lady stays on the court roll and will be independent. Our courts are fiercely independent,” he said, in apparent reference to Grace’s criminal charges in August after she whipped a South African model on her head with an electric cord, when she found her socializing with her two adult sons in Johannesburg.
The model filed a criminal complaint against Grace, but she slipped out of the country before answering to the charges in a South African court.
“So granting asylum to (former) president Mugabe won’t lead to the judge taking the case off the roll. Our law does not work that way,” the deputy minister said.
Opposition Cope MP Mosiuoa Lekota asked Landers what the ministry’s stance was on Mugabe’s recent comments that former South African president Nelson Mandela had “sold out” in negotiations for a peaceful
transition in South Africa.
“The statement by (former) president Robert Mugabe must be rejected with the contempt it deserves,” Landers said.
“The Honourable Lekota, though, accused Mr Mugabe of being a ‘foreigner’ when he made those comments. That is technically true, but then so are we: we are foreigners expressing our views about Zimbabwe and (former) president Robert Mugabe.
“I’m not saying he was right. He was wrong. But we must caution against talking of our neighbour as if Zimbabwe is a 10th province of South Africa,” he added.
Landers also said South Africa’s relations with Zimbabwe remained intact. A “peaceful and stable” Zimbabwe was still in the best interest of South Africa, he declared.
Landers said he was in agreement with some MPs that the Zimbabwean people should plot the way forward themselves. South Africa’s role was to provide assistance as a neighbor, he continued.
“No external forces must interfere,” Landers said. “We need to be mindful and wary of becoming big brother, like certain countries in other parts of the world. We shouldn’t fall into that trap.”
He said South Africans should try and help Zimbabwe like “true neighbours”.
He cautioned though that the debated “coup d’état or bloodless correction” should not be seen as the norm.
“This intervention by the Zimbabwean defence force must be viewed as an exception, and not the norm that must be followed by others in future,” Landers said.
Landers also rebuffed a suggestion by main opposition Democratic Alliance MP Stevens Mokgalapa that Zimbabwe’s elections should be fast-tracked.
The date for Zimbabwe’s scheduled 2018 elections must be respected, and is an internal matter, he said.
Landers also said it was not the appropriate time for South Africa to try and play a mediating role in finding closure for the victims of the Matabeleland massacres in the 1980s, in which Mugabe is accused of killing 20,000 people from the Zimbabwe Province.
“At the appropriate time, which is not now, perhaps then we should raise it with the Zimbabweans,” he said in response to the original question, again from Lekota.
Meanwhile, the Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and Ombudsman linked to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has called for the Zimbabwean government “to head to the polls without delay”.
The alliance, which met in Pretoria, said it had taken note of the positive political developments taking place in Zimbabwe, chief among them the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Alliance said: “[We] express the hope that the Government of Zimbabwe will proceed to allow the people to express their will through democratic elections, which
should be held without delay. The Alliance further calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure respect for the human rights of the people of Zimbabwe”.
The Alliance applauded “the peaceful manner, discipline and respect for human rights demonstrated by the Zimbabwean people and its leaders.”
“It is encouraging that all parties involved in this episode undertook unreservedly to uphold in the process of change the Constitution and its principles on protection and enhancement of human rights democracy and the rule of law,” said the Alliance.
It further urged Zimbabweans to forge a new democratic dispensation that will turn its economy around and see it realise most of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and 2063 agendas.