Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, International Relations and Cooperation Minister, has found herself in what can only be described as hot water after 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.
MPs are demanding that she be summoned to explain to Parliament her reasoning behind extending diplomatic immunity to the highly controversial Zimbabwean first lady, after the latter assaulted a 20-year-old woman in Sandton a few weeks ago.
Nkoana-Mashabane instead decided to send her deputy minister, citing that she is currently in Vietnam on official business.
The young woman, who was in the hotel room of Mrs Mugabe’s son at the time of the assault, has decided challenge the diplomatic immunity decision in court.
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.