The South African opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has told President Jacob Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) that President Robert Mugabe is not welcome in South Africa. The DA stressed that Mugabe should not be granted political asylum after reports that Mugabe had agreed in principle to step down. According to an article in NewsDay, Mugabe is expected to go into exile in South Africa after he was ousted by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces on Wednesday.
Writing on their Twitter account, the DA said:
We firmly reject the prospect of the South African government granting Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, access to the country on so-called “political asylum”.
The party added that Mugabe does not qualify to be granted refugee status as it is against the law and posted the following.
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 –
- 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
- has committed a crime which is not of a political nature and which, if committed in the Republic, would be punishable by imprisonment; or
- has been guilty of acts contrary to the objects and principles of the United Nations Organisations, or Organisation of African Unity; or
- 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.