African Union and Sadc Chair President Mugabe has condemned the anti-African immigrant violence in South Africa, imploring the continent’s citizens to treat each other with dignity.
The President said this while addressing thousands of people at Zimbabwe’s main 35th Independence Day Anniversary celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare yesterday.
The violence in South Africa flared a fortnight ago after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini said foreigners must pack their bags and leave.
Six people, including a Zimbabwean, have died in the violence, which is mainly directed at Africans.
President Mugabe said: “I want now to express our sense of shock and disgust as we abhor the incident that happened in Durban where some five or six Africans were burned to death deliberately by some members of the South African Zulu community.
“We understand it was a protest against the influx into South Africa of or by citizens from neighbouring countries. The act of treating other Africans in that horrible way cannot be condoned by anyone and whether these are followers of the Zulu King Zwelithini or the followers of some other misled members of the South African community, we say on our own behalf and behalf of Sadc, as indeed on behalf of the African Union, that (that) must never happen again, never happen again in South Africa or any other country.
“Our own African people, on the African continent, must be treated with dignity.”
The President said the matter could have been dealt with in more dignified ways if the xenophobes felt strongly about the presence of foreigners in their country.
He commended South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma for denouncing the violence, and said Government was working to repatriate affected Zimbabweans.
“We are glad that President Zuma has expressed his abhorrence just as what we are doing at what happened. He has done so in regards to that incident, assuring us and assuring other people on the African continent that this is not the South African way, but it is the way of misguided South Africans.
“We take it like that and we are glad that there has been this denunciation by the government of South Africa . . . On our part, we have, all the same, put in place measures to bring back those of our people in South Africa who want to be brought back now.
“Many of these measures have been taken by a group of our ministers, working together, and transport has been laid in South Africa to bring them to the border and from the border (we have mobilised) road transport, buses, to bring them into the county so that they can go to their homes.”
The violence erupted in KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial capital, Durban, where foreigners were burnt, stoned and struck with machetes.
Thousands of displaced migrants sought refuge at protected shelters, and many are being repatriated to their homelands.
Similar attacks occurred in 2008 when 62 people were killed and thousands displaced.
Africans from across the continent have since the fall of apartheid been migrating to South Africa in search of better livehoods.
However, some locals complain that such migrants are taking their jobs, while it is also suspected that criminals are taking advantage of this to attack foreigners.
In the South African Parliament on Thursday, President Zuma said: “Many (foreigners) are in the country legally and contribute to the economy and social development of the country. Many bring skills that are scarce that help us to develop the economy and are most welcome to live in our country.
“Others came to South Africa as refugees having run away from conflict or wars in their countries of origin, in the same way that many South Africans left this country at some point and lived in other countries in the continent and beyond. We were treated with generosity, dignity and respect by our brothers and sisters from the rest of the continent. We will never forget that hospitality and solidarity.
“We condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms. The attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies, especially the respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and ubuntu.”
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