Robert Mugabe

Parliament - The South African government has received no official request for political asylum or refugee status for former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe following his fall from grace on Tuesday.

In the event asylum was granted, his wife Grace Mugabe should not expect a private prosecution against her to be dropped over an assault complaint for which she was cleared through diplomatic immunity.

Briefing the international relations portfolio committee, Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Luwellyn Landers said: "At this point there is no indication he or anyone else has requested asylum."

Landers made the statements on Wednesday when he briefed the portfolio committee on the developments in the neighbouring country.

This was after the DA's Stevens Mokgalapa asked if official request has been made to offer Mugabe political asylum.

Mokgalapa said Mugabe should not be granted asylum.

"We feel it will be against the constitution and principles we believe in. South African government can't be a haven for dictators and human rights abusers," he said.

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Landers shrugged at Mokgalapa’s opinion, saying "your views on the matter are just your views".

"We have taken note of them," he added.

"At this point there is no request so I'm not going to venture into that territory.

The IFP's Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the question was misplaced since the Zimbabwe Defence Force had indicated that Mugabe was not its target other than those close to him it perceived as criminals.

"Let us not preempt the Zimbabwean processes because we will do so on the basis of emotions," Hlengwa said.

He also said Zimbabwe should rather take care of Mugabe.

The ANC's Loyiso Mpumlwana charged that the portfolio committee was not the appropriate forum to discuss matters on possible asylum for Mugabe since it would be handled by the Department of Home Affairs .

The ACDP's Cheryllyn Dudley wanted to know what would be the implication for Grace if asylum was sought in South Africa.

"What would be the implication in view the (assault) case of the former first lady?" Dudley asked.

This was in reference to the case that was opened after she allegedly assaulted a South African model Gabriella Engels who accused her of assault a few months ago.

Grace was granted diplomatic immunity by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, a move that sparked outrage in some quarters.

Landers said the case would still remain on the court roll in the event asylum was granted.

He said the country’s courts were "fiercely" independent and that granting asylum would not have a bearing in the pending case.

During the meeting, Congress of the People (Cope) president Mosiuoa Lekota demanded answers on the stance of the South African government on the statements made by Mugabe that Nelson Mandela sold out the country's land and economy to whites.

He claimed there was open letter purported to be from Mugabe, wherein he bid farewell to Zimbabweans and again chastised Mandela three months after he made similar remarks.

"It is something I regard with utter contempt. It has no foundation and for us to be told by a foreigner. Are we saying Mandela sold out by signing this constitution?" a visibly angry Lekota said.

Landers said while Zimbabwe was an autonomous and sovereign state, South African reserved its rights to express its view.

He also said Mugabe's statement on Mandela "must be rejected with the contempt it deserves".

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