Grace Mugabe an ‘embarrassment’ for SA and Zimbabwe: analysts

16 August 2017 - 16:24
By Nico Gous
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace. File photo.
Image: REUTERS Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace. File photo.

Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe is becoming an embarrassment for both the South African and Zimbabwean governments.

That is according to Theo Venter‚ political analyst at North-West University’s (NWU) School of Business and Governance.

Venter believes South Africa does not have the political will to prosecute Mugabe.

“If we can look at what we have done before‚ the (Omar) al-Bashir case immediately comes to mind. I don’t think we should hold our breath over whether Grace will be arrested.”

Grace Mugabe has been accused of assaulting 20-year-old Gabriella Engels with an electrical extension cord on Sunday night at a luxury hotel in Sandton‚ Johannesburg‚ where Mugabe’s two sons were thought to be staying.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is expected to arrive in South Africa on Wednesday afternoon amid the diplomatic storm brewing over the assault allegations faced by his wife.

Venter said if the Zimbabwean president is flying to South Africa “the bustle behind the screens around Grace is more substantial than we thought”.

Acting national police commissioner Lt-Gen Lesetja Mothiba told Parliament’s portfolio committee on police on Wednesday that Grace’s lawyers have agreed to cooperate with police.

He said the National Director of Public Prosecutions‚ Shaun Abrahams‚ was present with Mugabe’s lawyers when the commitment to cooperate with the police was made. He said Mugabe's lawyers presented themselves to plead diplomatic immunity on her behalf.

Lecturer in international relations at Wits University David Hornsby believes Grace has become a “huge embarrassment” for Zimbabwe.

“South Africa should not be embarrassed at all.”

Hornsby believes South Africa is currently responding “correctly”.

He is curious about a possible diplomatic solution.

“I do not think this is a situation where the (Zimbabwean) government can negotiate a trade-off to make this go away.”

Venter said Police Minister Fikile Mbalula is becoming the “court jester” in the saga around Grace.

“The essence of him in this whole Grace affair is Fikile Mbalula is becoming more untrustworthy.”