The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (Cosatu) has slammed the government’s decision to grant Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity.
International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCOP) minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Sunday said she had “agonised” over her decision to grant Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity, following allegations she assaulted a South African model in Johannesburg’s Sandton suburb last week.
Mrs Mugabe left South Africa on Sunday after days of speculation in local and international media over what would happen to her.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla described the decision as “disgraceful and a camouflaged surrender”.
He said the minister’s decision showed that the South African government was incapable of protecting its own citizens.
“This makes a mockery of our rule of law and the principle of equality before the law. It is clear now that the citizens of this country cannot be guaranteed protection by this government. This ill thought decision is proof that our so called exceptionalism is an amount of scale, not of quality anymore,” said Mr Pamla.
He explained that while the government had every right to maintain healthy relations with neighbouring countries, “this should not be done at the expense of South African citizens”.
“We cannot allow the political anarchy and vandalism of the Mugabe-led administration in Zimbabwe to be imported into our country,” Mr Pamla added.
The union urged the government to ban Mrs Mugabe from ever stepping into South Africa.
President Robert Mugabe’s wife was born in Benoni, a small town located 28km from Johannesburg.
“We are turning into a Banana republic very fast because of our government’s misdirected idealism,” Mr Pamla said.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) legislator, Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa, on Monday wrote a letter to parliament requesting that the minister be called in to explain her decision.
IFP said it was in the national interest for the minister to explain herself to a parliamentary committee.
Lobby group AfriForum also said it would be applying for a review to set aside the decision to grant Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity.
The group’s Willie Spies believes there was a good chance of the review being successful.