DA leader Mmusi Maimane

Cape Town - South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane on Friday, said the government would be breaking the law if it were to grant embattled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe asylum.

Maimane urged President Jacob Zuma to make a public announcement to rule out the prospect.

The call came as Zimbabwean military leaders said Mugabe would be deposed if he did not heed an ultimatum to resign on Saturday.

Maimane said South Africa's Refugees Act expressly barred anybody who had committed war crimes or crimes against humanity, or any crime that would constitute a prisonable offense under South African law.

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"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," Maimane said. 

"As long as Mugabe would not face torture or death penalty in Zimbabwe, the South African government must exclude him from asylum."

Maimane said Mugabe must step down immediately and Zimbabwe should go to the polls to elect a new government.