(By Christopher Miti and Masuzyo Chakwe)
MMD leader Nevers Mumba says the xenophobic attacks targeted at foreign nationals in South Africa should be treated as an
emergency for which an emergency SADC meeting should be called to address it.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu says her government is working closely with the police and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that security is provided to foreigners living in South Africa.
In a statement, Mumba said the attacks on foreign nationals by South Africans should not be tolerated.
“This problem has been brewing for several years now and this is not the first time citizens from the SADC region that have visited South Africa to work there either legally or illegally have been butchered in broad daylight in the presence of people that should have stopped their brutality. We think that it is important that we make certain observations and pray that our countries in the region could consider this development as an emergency,” he said.
Mumba said South Africa, like all other nations in the region, was a beneficiary of sacrifices of many of the people in the region in the efforts of finding their freedom and independence.
“…and therefore to reward those that laboured hard to help them liberate themselves, to subject them to such brutality and savagely, I do not think that anyone of us should tolerate that for a moment because of purely the repercussions that could follow if this thing is not curtailed immediately. As MMD, we would like to urge the Zambian government to take the lead in demanding for an emergency SADC meeting at which this matter is going to be placed on the table and discussed thoroughly and find consensus on how we are going to treat our citizens that visit anyone of the SADC countries and rest of Africa,” he said.
Mumba said Africa does not need what was going on in South Africa.
“While all nations around the world are coming together in economic and political blocks in order to increase their influence across the world, Africa seems to be going backwards in trying to find the way to divide ourselves and to limit our powers on the international platform. We, therefore, ask Zambia to lead the way in the manner that Zambia has always done. We would like to remind not only our brothers and sisters in South Africa that it’s not only in the matter of the economy that Zambia was a frontline state chairman that paid the highest price both economically and in terms of human life that was lost to ensure that South Africa attains its independence,” he said.
Mumba said Zambia like many other frontline states sacrificed its resources, lives of its citizens in order to ensure that their brothers and sisters below the Limpopo could also enjoy their freedom.
“ It is therefore improper for South Africa to repay their colleagues beyond the Limpopo with that kind of brutality and savagely that we have been watching on television. We would like our colleagues in South Africa also to remember from the economic point of view that the produce, the products that are made in South Africa have flooded the SADC market. Zambia itself is flooded with a lot of products that have come from South Africa, Botswana is flooded, Namibia is flooded,
Mozambique is flooded with the products that are coming from South Africa. If for some reasons these SADC countries decided to stop South Africans from exporting their products to Zambia, the people that are going to suffer the most are going to be the ordinary South Africans who are working in those factories that these products are being produced for the rest of the region,” he said.
“And again this will deepen the job crisis that is already there in South Africa. We therefore believe that this is an emergency that the SADC region must now confront. Any delay of this initiative will empower the ordinary citizens of these countries to take the law in their own hands and once they do that we may come to a place where we may not be able to manage the divisions, the fights, the brutality that might engulf our region purely through revenge and vengeance but this would only happen if there is failure of leadership at the SADC heads of state level.”
Mumba said there was still time to find consensus and new protocols on how SADC countries would treat each other even as individuals. Mumba appealed to all African states and all African leaders to implore “all of us in the region or on the continent of Africa to learn to respect the black life”.
“Yes, our history has given us the understanding that black life does not matter because of colonisation, imposition of apartheid on our people who were being brutally killed by the oppressors, we came to convince ourselves that black life does not matter. While we understand that foreign powers that colonised us could think that way we should not for a minute belittle the value of the black life ourselves as Africans,” he said.
“If one American was brutally killed in one of these countries here in Africa, it would be a headline in the news on CNN on BBC and they would immediately ensure that they apply sanctions against that country that has touched that life. May we also realise that in order for us as Africa to arise, we need to respect our own life and ensure that we place value on all of us whether we are Mozambicans, Zimbabweans, South Africans, Zambians, Namibians or Tswanas, we are all created in the image of God. All our people are trying to ensure they find economic power and leaders of this region must create that environment,” said Mumba.
Speaking at an urgent meeting held with Ambassadors and High Commissioners from the African region at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in Pretoria, Sisulu said reports of alleged xenophobic attacks that had re-emerged were a great concern to her government. She said her government would work closely with members of the diplomatic corps to ensure that regular updates were given concerning reports of xenophobia. Sisulu noted that the safety of people living in South Africa was a collective responsibility, as such, SADC member countries would be actively engaged to find a solution. She said her government would guarantee that all people, including foreigners, were safe. Sisulu also stated that the police would ensure that trucks and their trade routes were made safe.
The meeting was held in the wake of xenophobic and criminal attacks against foreign nationals in Sprinfield, Durban. In that attack, 300 Malawians were displaced from their homes and are sheltering at a police station in Springfield. Others that attended the meeting were the police minister Bheke Cele and his police commissioners. And Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba said reports of alleged xenophobia were distressing.
This is according to first secretary press and public relations Naomi Nyawali.