Clayton Monyela, South Africa’s international relations spokesperson, rejected the notion that Grace Mugabe enjoyed diplomatic immunity during the trip and could therefore escape prosecution.
“She needs to be here on official business. It won’t apply if she’s here on holiday or for something else. Secondly‚ as a first lady‚ she’s not part of government or a government official. It doesn’t apply just because she’s the wife of a president‚” Monyela said.
Even though South African government officials were bullish about the rule book in public, in private it must be a head scratching moment.
President Robert Mugabe is, after all, revered by the South African government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.
Grace Mugabe’s (nee Marufu) buccaneering attitude and scant regard for the law in South Africa are typical of her behaviour back home.
Because of her husband’s position, she wields a disproportionately large influence in the ruling Zanu PF party and on the Zimbabwean government, despite not holding any official position in it.
She recently became the secretary for women’s affairs in the ZANU-PF party’s highest decision-making body.
And in the prime farming area of Mazowe, north of Harare, she has evicted scores of peasants from farms she has acquired to pave way for her various projects.
These evictions of the poor are to make way for a school, an orphanage, a game park and even a university.
Although the university is ostensibly a private venture, the First Lady will receive a billion dollar government grant.
She has even had the support of armed police officers to bar local villagers from using the Mazowe dam, effectively privatising a state-owned water source.
Grace Mugabe is so powerful that, a few weeks ago, at a ZANU-PF rally, she chastised the presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, as her husband looked on over the state media’s negative coverage of her allies.
By implication, she was attacking Charamba for belonging to a camp popularly known as “Lacoste,” a grouping of battle-hardened and ambitious people in the army, government and intelligence with links to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, widely tipped as the favourite to succeed the 93-year-old president.
Grace Mugabe, however, has become the figurehead of an opposing faction known as the “G40,” which includes people like Jonathan Moyo, the scandal-mired minister of higher education, local government minister Savior Kasukuwere, and others.
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