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JOHANNESBURG — It probably came as little surprise on the weekend when news reports started breaking about the ANC-led government having let Grace Mugabe go back to Zimbabwe despite an assault charge hanging over her head. More stories are starting to emerge about her rampage in a Sandton hotel. It’s incredibly disturbing then that she’s been given diplomatic immunity by South Africa. The question now is whether she will ever face up to the consequences. But as Ed Herbst highlights in this below piece, the ANC has had a history of supporting despots. Perhaps this is yet another reason for why the party needs to lose political power in 2019 in order for South Africans to start fixing up the country. – Gareth van Zyl
#GraceMugabe leaving South Africa, is sadly less about who she is, and far more about who we've become. Aiding & abetting violence & crime🇿🇦
— Mike Abel (@abelmike) August 20, 2017
By Ed Herbst*
There was never a chance that the ANC would allow Grace Mugabe to be charged for her vicious attack on a young South African woman while her bodyguards stood by in threatening solidarity.
If it refused to arrest Omar al Bashir, the man who has made mass rape a conventional war tactic in the Sudan and assisted him to flee the country when the possibility of arrest was raised in our courts, why would its modus operandi differ in the Grace Mugabe assault?
The ANC reveres despots like Mugabe and Muammar Gaddafi, the Lockerbie Bomber who regarded Libyan teenagers as his entitled sexual prey.
As Michael Gerson, an op-ed columnist for the Washington Post, has pointed out, the ANC has always voted against Western democracies in the UN and supported the despots when the time came to vote on human rights matters.
The ANC reveres Mugabe, in substantial measure because he hates white people.
An SABC colleague was in the broadcast control room at the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban and without exception the senior SABC executives in the room, ANC supporters all, went into a paroxysm of joyful delirium when Robert Mugabe took to the podium to denounce whites. They stomped, they shouted, they high-fived, they punched the air in ecstasy and today the NDZ lobby prates about white monopoly capital as avidly as the ANC used to sing ‘Kill the farmer, kill the boer’ in Peter Mokaba’s heyday.
Unsurprisingly, former President Thabo Mbeki was out of the blocks like Usain Bolt when news of the assault on Gabriella Engels broke, hastening to assure incensed South Africans that this would not affect the ANC’s cosy relationship with the Mugabe regime.
When it comes to tolerating despots, the ANC in general and Mbeki in particular, excels.
Here’s how Barney Mthombothi described Mbeki ‘Silent Diplomacy’ in a recent Sunday Times column:
As president he looked the other way when Botswana hanged a South African citizen. His government wouldn’t lift a finger to save her from the gallows for fear of annoying a fellow African country.
The rot set in right at the very beginning. The new South Africa was hardly a year old when, in 1995, Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha defied world opinion and hanged Ken Saro-Wiwa, an Ogoni activist. Nelson Mandela after publicly berating Abacha, dispatched Mbeki, his then deputy president to Nigeria to express his displeasure. Mbeki went to Nigeria to apologise.
Mbeki shares Mugabe’s antipathy towards white people.
The overlord of the Arms Deal cover-up as former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein points out in his book, relentlessly attributed to all white South Africans the aberrational examples of ethnic hatred by the few.
Here’s how Tony Leon described the use of this tactic in his 2008 book On the Contrary – Leading the Opposition in a Democratic South Africa:
Once established as president, Mbeki started to increasingly fine-tune his perspective. In parliament at the State of the Nation debate on 4 February 2000, he thought it necessary to draw the nation’s attention to an email sent by a racist engineer in KwaZulu-Natal (dismissed for his trouble). Mbeki was happy to provide the quotation in full.
Quite why he saw fit to treat parliament to this vituperative filth was not clear. But he was prosecuting his race obsession – and to place it back, front and centre on the political agenda.
In this regard nothing has changed in the era of his successor with President Jacob Zuma evoking the Rwandan genocide with his description of those who voted for the DA as snakes.
Everyone knew that the 2002 elections in Zimbabwe had been blatantly and brazenly rigged by Mugabe which resulted, despite Mbeki’s opposition, in Zimbabwe being suspended from the Commonwealth. A year later South Africa blocked a UN vote which condemned human rights atrocities in Zimbabwe. During the rigged election these atrocities had included 107 murders, abduction and torture and false imprisonment of opposition voters.
Mbeki had sent two highly respected judges Sisi Khampepe and Dikgang Moseneke to monitor the 2002 election and their report confirmed widespread voting fraud and intimidation.
Zapiro, as always, summed up the ANC’s perfidy.
One of the consequences of this was that one of our most incisive legal minds, Jeremy Gauntlett, who lobbied for the release of the Khampepe report, was denied elevation to the Bench on no less than five occasions.
So much for the ANC’s promise in 1994 of a ‘new’, ‘transformed’ South Africa which, in a complete break with the apartheid past, would be both transparent and accountable.
In 2000 and again the following year, Mbeki was photographed walking hand in hand with Robert Mugabe and this was repeated by President Jacob Zuma in 2010.
This despite the fact that the world knew how Mugabe had masterminded the Gukurahundi massacres of Ndebeles in 1983 by his notorious Fifth Brigade, a genocidal campaign which claimed thousands of civilian lives.
This despite Mugabe’s 2005 Operation Murambatsvina (‘Drive out the rubbish’) which immiserated hundreds of thousands of shanty dwellers in Harare, regarded by him as a hotbed of opposition.
It is all part, as Mbeki and Zuma will assure you, of the ‘African Renaissance’, part of the ANC’s ‘Good story to tell’ and the fact that the ANC invoked diplomatic immunity to protect the Harare Harridan surprised no one, least of all, I am sure, Michael Gerson.
Omar al-Bashir is wanted for war crimes.
Edgar Lungu imprisons his rivals.
Grace Mugabe assaults people.
Guess whose side the ANC takes? 🤔
— Jacques Maree (@JacquesMaree73) August 22, 2017
- Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.