Handing Mugabe asylum will be against the law - Mmusi Maimane

DA leader says our nation’s borders shouldn't be opened up to human rights violators

Handing Robert Mugabe asylum will be against the law

The Democratic Alliance (DA) firmly rejects the prospect of the South African government granting Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, access into the country on so-called “political asylum”. We are of the view that this would be a violation of South Africa law, and as such President Jacob Zuma must make a public statement rejecting such an outcome.

We are of the view that allowing Robert Mugabe into South Africa on political asylum, or “refugee status” would be in contravention of the Refugees Act (130 of 1998) – the empowering legislation.

Asylum is applied for in terms of Section 21 of the Act, and is defined as “refugee status”. Section 4 of the Act which deals with “exclusion from refugee status”, states as follows:

“(1) A person does not qualify for refugee status for the purposes of this Act if there is reason to believe that he or she –

1. has committed a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity, as defined in any international legal instrument dealing with any such crimes; or

2. has committed a crime which is not of a political nature and which, if committed in the Republic, would be punishable by imprisonment; or

3. has been guilty of acts contrary to the objects and principles of the United Nations Organisations, or Organisation of African Unity; or

4.  enjoys the protection of any other country in which he or she has taken residence. (Emphasis Added)

Robert Mugabe has, like many other leaders on the continent, turned from liberator to dictator, with human rights abuses and crimes against peace being committed under his watch. As such, he ought to be denied refugee status as per the law. As long as Mugabe would not face torture or death penalty in Zimbabwe, the South African government must exclude him from asylum.

It cannot be that under Jacob Zuma’s ANC, our nation’s borders are opened up to human rights violators like Robert Mugabe. This opposes the very spirit of our Constitution, and is an assault on the dignity of the millions of fellow Africans who have suffered under the reign of Robert Mugabe. South Africa’s role must be to stabilize the transitional government, ensure prosecution of those who have broken the law, and ensure that free and fair elections take place.

We maintain that the only way forward for Zimbabwe is for fresh elections to be held immediately, and for Robert Mugabe to step down as President of Zimbabwe.

Statement issued by Mmusi Maimane, Leader of Democratic Alliance, 17 November 2017