By Siyabonga Mkwananzi
Johannesburg – The political fallout over the granting of diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe has led to civil society groups and opposition parties pushing for a review of the decision in the high court.
The DA and AfriForum said on Sunday Grace would not be let off the hook after she flew back to Harare on Sunday morning with her husband, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. She was granted diplomatic immunity by the South African government.
AfriForum’s legal representative, Willie Spies, said Grace’s departure was not the end of the story.
And Parliament’s chairperson of the portfolio committee on international relations, Siphosezwe Masango, said they would discuss the matter in the ANC’s study group on Sunday
He said they hadn’t had time to discuss it since the furore began, and tomorrow’s meeting should come up with a decision.
AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel said they would launch a review application of the government’s decision to grant Grace diplomatic immunity. “If the review application is successful, and there are good grounds to believe that such an application will succeed, the doors will be open for the National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute Mrs Mugabe,” said Kriel.
If the NPA refused to prosecute her, their private prosecution unit would begin with the private prosecution proceedings, he added.
The DA said Parliament must institute a full-scale inquiry into the matter.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said they wanted all the ministers involved in granting Grace diplomatic immunity to be hauled before the inquiry.
He said it was inexplicable how the government could have allowed the first lady to leave.
Steenhuisen said it had done exactly the same thing when it allowed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country when there was an international arrest warrant out for him.
Somadoda Fikeni of Unisa said the latest developments would have implications for the government and on whether Grace would be able to return to South Africa.
“It will depend how the two countries have handled the matter. If it leads to court cases, that will complicate the situation. But if she successfully challenges the case, she will still be allowed to come back into the country,” said Fikeni.
But he said this would not make things easy for the government of Zimbabwe in how it deals with the situation.
South Africa has strong trade ties with Zimbabwe, which is South Africa’s largest trading partner in the region.
Meanwhile, in a statement relating to the diplomatic immunity granted to Grace, Dirco cited reasons for pardoning her and allowing her to fly back home as part of maintaining good inter-governmental relations within the SADC region and between SA and Zimbabwe.
It said according to the country’s diplomacy act, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane had the powers to enter into an agreement in the conferment of immunities and privileges in the interest of South Africa.
Dirco also highlighted that it had granted Grace immunity after it had taken legal considerations, including a directive that acknowledges the immunity of spouses of heads of state. – Additional reporting by Noni Mokati