23 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Academic Says SA Dangerous for Mugabe and Grace, Couple to Be Hounded By Human Rights Activists

Photo: The Herald
Former president Robert Mugabe and Grace Mugabe (file photo).

South Africa is a dangerous country for President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, to seek refuge as some of its citizens and international human rights activists will hound the couple for crimes they committed there and in Zimbabwe, a top academic has said.

A Wits University professor, Anthoni van Nieuwkerk, told the media in South Africa that it was very unlikely that Mugabe would settle in the neighbouring country.

"It wouldn't be a quiet and peaceful asylum. She (Grace) came here (this year) and beat up a South African citizen, and people have said that if she comes back here, she has to stand trial, so that is the first complication," Nieuwkerk said.

"Our activists will most likely hound them until she stands trial," he added.

Van Nieuwkerk said international human rights activists would come hard after Mugabe, 93, and force him to stand trial for the crimes he committed in the 1980s when over 20 000 Zimbabweans were killed in the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and parts of Midlands provinces.

"South Africa also needs to ask itself if it wants to be associated with retired dictators," he said.

However, Mugabe and his family own several properties in South Africa and the couple's two sons, Robert Jnr and Chatunga live there.

Van Nieuwkerk said it was highly probable that Mugabe, who owned properties in Hong Kong and Singapore, could choose to live in the Far East.

South Africa is home to over two million Zimbabweans who have fled their country due to Mugabe's ruinous political and economic policies.

However, another academic, Dr. John Akokpari from the University of Cape Town, said South Africa should seriously consider giving Mugabe asylum as the country was Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner in the region.

"Zimbabwe is South Africa's biggest trading partner in the region, and South Africa is constantly looking for areas of investment, so it is unlikely that they would ever do anything to annoy Zimbabwe," he said.

"That is why when (former South Africa president Thabo) Mbeki and (President Jacob) Zuma have gone to mediate, they always appear sympathetic towards Mugabe. It is all about the countries' shared history of colonialism and economic relations," said Akokpari.

"The chances are higher that they (Mugabes) will come to South Africa, and South Africa will most likely accept Mugabe," he said.

Mugabe resigned on Tuesday as MPs were in the process of impeaching him. That was after Zanu PF had booted as its leader on Sunday.

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