By Sidney Majoko
If there was ever a perfect time for a visiting first lady to waltz into South Africa and break our laws, this is it. Grace Mugabe allegedly assaulted a South African citizen and got away with it. And under the current government she was always going to get away with it.
See, the moral compass of our current administration is broken, and even Grace Mugabe knows it.
The National Prosecuting Authority is being confronted with loads of evidence of underhanded dealings by powerful individuals on a daily basis and they are dragging their feet in putting together a decent case because the head of the country and people around him are implicated in most of these cases.
The result of ignoring these very corrupt activities creates an atmosphere of lawlessness associated with our top leaders. This lawlessness permeates every sphere of government and most officials do things knowing there will be no consequences.
Yes, Grace broke the law – but she didn’t create the lawlessness that allowed her to get away with a criminal act. We keep on expecting too much from a government that has clearly demonstrated they do not have it in them to act in morally acceptable ways.
We should no longer be surprised that issues like this happen when the man at the helm is shielded from facing the consequences of his actions.
It is reported that when the ex-deputy minister of higher education and training Mduduzi Manana assaulted a young lady at Cubana he uttered the words: “Do you know who I am?”
Although he has finally taken responsibility for his actions by resigning and is facing the law, it was only after the public screamed blue murder that he was left with no choice but to resign.
The lawlessness that surrounds the top echelons of government are the only reason that made him believe that he’s untouchable; that who he is sets him aside from normal citizens and he can actually do what he did and get away with it.
Only a president that fires a performing finance minister and his deputy without blinking can keep a deputy minister who has admitted to beating up a woman and give him an option of resigning.
It is exactly that atmosphere that leads people like Grace Mugabe to come into this country and do as they like because the morality of our leaders is questionable.
Mugabe may as well have asked Gabriella Engels that very same question: “Do you know who I am?”
That question is a coded message for “I can break the law and get away with it.”
And she did get away with it.
The saddest part is that Engels is not the only casualty of the assault: the minister of international relations also used her office to put a stamp of approval on Mugabe getting away with a criminal act.
Invoking diplomatic immunity for an incident that clearly happened while she was not on official duty is scandalous, to say the least. But the biggest casualty here was our legal structures.
They’ve clearly demonstrated that, as in Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others. But we shouldn’t be surprised, this is Jacob Zuma’s kingdom after all. *Majoko is a commentator for South Africa’s newspaper, The Citizen