MINISTER IN HOT WATER OVER GRACE MUGABE IMMUNITY

Alleged Grace Mugabe assault victim offered blank cheque

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is in hot water with MPs who are demanding that she be summoned to explain to Parliament why she granted Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

Nkoana-Mashabane was scheduled to be in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon, to answer questions along with her Cabinet colleagues in the peace and security cluster.

But she’s decided to send her deputy minister instead because she’s in Vietnam on official business.

Nkoana-Mashabane gave Zimbabwe’s first lady immunity after she allegedly assaulted a young woman in her sons’ hotel room, a decision that the Democratic Alliance is preparing to take on review.

African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu says the minister won’t be in the house despite efforts by the leader of government business and deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to persuade her to come.

Mthembu says that Parliament needs to sharpen its rules to ensure it has teeth to act against a small number of ministers who “show Parliament the middle finger”.

“It’s something that we need to halt [and] it’s something that we need to be worried about. We agree that this is very regrettable and very unfortunate.”

The Democratic Alliance wants Nkoana-Mashabane to be subpoenaed to appear.

The party’s Mike Waters says: “The Constitution clause 56 empowers Parliament to summons anybody. So, what we must do is summons the minister and bring her in kicking and screaming if she doesn’t to come on a voluntary basis.”

The matter is to be referred to the rules committee.

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