One wonders – after the international arrest warrant issued for Grace Mugabe this week – whether the days of Africa’s “big men” (and women) are numbered.
Imperious and imperial, Grace Mugabe is a contender for the title of “Africa’s Marie Antoinette”, along with Isabella Dos Santos, fabulously wealthy daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.
And, in keeping with her position for many years as Zimbabwe’s first lady, the wife of President Robert Mugabe believed implicitly in her divine right to do as she pleased. That is what led to the allegations of assault levelled against her by a Johannesburg model, Gabriella Engels, who claimed Grace attacked her because she was angered that she was partying with the presidential couple’s two sons.
It looked as though Grace would get away with it, as our government in Pretoria continued with the age-old continental theme of turning a blind eye to criminality by fellow African leaders. This is the sort of attitude – the unspoken mission statement of the African Union – which allowed the new kings of Africa to turn their countries into banana republics and loot and abuse at will.
It took a private organisation, AfriForum, to become the conscience of South Africa when the one at Union Buildings went missing in action – and force the authorities to open a criminal case.
It is a hopeful sign that the “New Dawn” atmosphere engendered by Cyril Ramaphosa means the old ways of doing things are being discarded one by one. Incompetence, nepotism and downright looting will not be allowed to turn South African into a basket case, our president and his supporters have promised us.
A democratic South Africa – one with integrity – can show the rest of the continent that there should be no place to hide for people like Grace Mugabe.