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It's up to SA govt to invite Mugabe to Fort Hare celebrations - spokesperson

19 May 2016, 21:36Luthando Vikilahle, News24

Cape Town - President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson has refused to confirm or deny his attendance at the University of Fort Hare's centenary celebration on Friday.  

George Charamba told News24 that the South African government had to make the final decision on whether to invite the Zimbabwean leader to the country's oldest university.

"There is no invitation... SA government is the one to make that decision," Charamba said.

Charamba's remarks came after the Zimbabwean opposition parties urged the University of Fort Hare to withdraw an invite believed to have been extended to Mugabe.

According to News 24, the newly formed, Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), threatened to demonstrate at the university's celebration, should Mugabe attend.  

In a letter written to Vice Chancellor Mvuyo Tom, the Joice Mujuru-led party objected to the visit.

Sovereign government 

ZPF's interim co-ordinator in South Africa, Builder Lawrence Mavhaire, urged the university to withdraw the invitation, saying that Mugabe has embarrassed former graduates through his alleged human rights abuses.

But, an angry Charamba lambasted the ZPF, saying that the party meant nothing to them.

"South Africa should not listen to opposition parties. Those have no jurisdiction over South Africa. The South African government is the one to make that decision. No opposition party would tell a sovereign government who to invite or not invite," Charamba said.  

However, South Africa's Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe confirmed that Mugabe would be amongst the dignitaries at the celebrations. 

Radebe told News 24 on Wednesday that as a graduate of the university, which opened in 1916, Mugabe would be joined by President Jacob Zuma and other yet-to-be announced African leaders.

Zuma was expected to deliver the keynote address and Mugabe would speak as an alumnus.

The university was originally known as the South African Native College. Many of the country's political elite, such as Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, and Mangosuthu Buthelezi studied there. Others included artist Ernest Mancoba and poet Dennis Brutus.

It changed to a college for Xhosa speakers when the National Party government took it over between 1959 and 1960, the university says on its website.

- News 24


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