Mugabe, SA row escalates

Zimbabwean despot President Robert Mugabe and ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe

HARARE – Gwede Mantashe, the secretary-general of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), has hit back at President Robert Mugabe for his recent attacks on him and the late Nelson Mandela as the row ignited by the 93-year-old remarks fails to cool down tempers.

Mugabe has in the past few days attacked Mandela and the ANC chief in remarks which have drawn fears of a possible diplomatic row between the two neighbours.

“President Mugabe should not insult the person & legacy of President Nelson Mandela. Zimbabwe should be very thankful to us.

“President Mugabe cannot insult us. We don’t research their crisis, we meet it on the streets,” Mantashe vented his fury on micro blogging site, Twitter, on Friday evening.

Mugabe on Thursday took a dig at Mantashe for his response to the nonagenarian’s attacks on Mandela which did not sit well with both the ANC and President Jacob Zuma’s government.

That was after Mantashe had on Tuesday told the South African media that he had made a formal complaint during his tele-conversation with Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo in which he conveyed South Africa’s and ANC’s outrage at Mugabe’s attacks on Mandela.

“I made this remark in regard to South Africa and what do they call him . . . Gwede Mantashe stupidly reacted. Yes, they only fought to remove apartheid. This was it. We talked to them…” Mugabe said in his attack on the ANC secretary-general.

Tensions have been high ever since Mugabe made claims that Mandela valued his own freedom more than the economic freedom of his people, that’s why “everything is in whites’ hands”.

“What was the most important thing for (Mandela) was his release from prison and nothing else. He cherished that freedom more than anything else and forgot why he was put in jail,”

“I was in South Africa recently talking to a minister in President Jacob Zuma’s office and I did ask him how they have handled the land issue after attaining independence. I did ask him why they left the whites with everything. He answered my question in English and said: ‘Ask your friend Mandela.’”

“They (whites) are in control of land, industries and companies and are now the employers of the blacks. These blacks have failed to liberate themselves from white supremacy all because of what Mandela did,” Mugabe said in his remarks which have left the South Africans outraged.

Mugabe’s attacks on Mandela, the late global icon and former South African first black president, came as Zuma and his government are under pressure to justify the decision to grant First Lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity when she was facing charges of allegedly assaulting a local model.

Grace was last month granted diplomatic immunity after South African Police Services said it wanted her charged over allegations of assault made by Gabriella Engels, a 20-year-old South African model she found with her two sons at an upmarket hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg.

South African opposition and rights groups are pursuing the matter in the courts.

Political analysts have warned that if Mugabe is not restrained from his “unwarranted” attacks on South Africa and its leadership, Zimbabwe could spark a serious diplomatic row with its biggest trading partner which could lead to a serious fallout.