[By Chambwa Moonga and Masuzyo Chakwe]
FORMER foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba says peace in the SADC region is on trial following a spate of xenophobic attacks on foreign Africans in South Africa.
And MMD president Nevers Mumba says the South African crisis is a failure of the SADC leadership.
On Wednesday, scores of University of Zambia (UNZA) students protested to the South African High Commission in a Lusaka up-market area, Kabulonga.
This week, a Zambian, Daniel Lupiya, was stabbed in the head as residents of Tembisa in South Africa’s commercial capital, Johannesburg, targeted foreign-owned shops for looting.
Lupiya was rushed to Germiston Hospital to receive treatment.
Zambia’s Ministry of Transport and Communications has since advised truck drivers already in South Africa to park their vehicles at safe and designated places.
Kalaba, who is now opposition Democratic Party president, called The Mast to sound his displeasure about the spate of xenophobic attacks and how leaders of the regional bloc – SADC – have coldly responded to the matter.
“The issue of xenophobia in South Africa; the Presidents of Rwanda, Malawi, Zimbabwe have boycotted the World Economic Forum in Cape Town. [But] for us, we have our Minister of Commerce Honourable [Christopher] Yaluma to represent Zambia,” Kalaba noted.
“So, when we are condemning this thing but we can’t walk the talk, what are we talking? President Lungu is the outgoing chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security!”
He emphasised that it was in the interest of the SADC region that peace prevails within the region.
“Right now peace is on trial because members of the SADC from Zambia, Zimbabwe and from other countries are being attacked in South Africa. But the President (Lungu) has issued a statement just like an ordinary person!” noted Kalaba.
“We expect more from him as outgoing, former, chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security. He (President Lungu) is still outgoing chairperson of that organ. We expected Zambia to show that in the last 55 years of our independence we have always advocated for peace and tranquility. But the kind of approach that the President is taking is regrettable. He has not shown leadership on this matter.”
But Mumba discouraged an eye for an eye response to the xenophobia as that only leaves blindness.
He said at the core of the crisis was failure of leadership at SADC level to deal with the xenophobia attacks in South Africa.
The former Republican vice-president said there were several early warnings, including one just before the current crisis when South Africans themselves warned that on September 2 they would maim and kill SADC and other African nationals.
“Even with such warnings, SADC leaders put no measures in place to avert this evil. Today, we have blood, the blood of our own brothers and sisters flowing in the streets. The sad thing is while our friends in the Bahamas and Florida in the USA are fighting against a disaster caused by mother-nature (Hurricane Dorian), we are dealing with one caused by ourselves. We have decided to kill each other over breadcrumbs left for us by those who colonised us. We are now foreigners to one another while our former colonisers are respected as non-foreigners,” he stated yesterday.
Mumba said the Church must not only pray, but must be ready to put their hands to work and add their voice to the fight and help end this, and many other social injustices.
He said South Africa had no moral right to wage this ‘warfare’ against the rest of Africa.
He said despite the resources spent, and the blood spilled by all of Africa, and Zambia in particular, the country had no intention to either abuse South Africa or hold them at ransom for the sacrifices it made for them.
“All we ask for is respect and a thank you, and not death. It is reported that Zambia and then President Kenneth Kaunda spent a colossal amount on the liberation struggle for the region, including South Africa. In fact, some reports have estimated this figure to be as high as $20 billion during this period,” he said.
“This sacrifice cost Kenneth Kaunda political support and our economy never recovered after this huge expense. This is the worst turn of events for Africa considering how much progress and strides we have so far made towards unity and consolidation of our economic power.”
Mumba said Zambia has been the leader of the liberation struggle and the home for all disadvantaged sister nations, including South Africa.
“We have hosted the highest numbers of refugees in Africa. We do this at great cost, but that is who we are. We are a hospitable people, and the peace we keep is not only for ourselves but for those nations that do not know peace. We are unlike any other nation: we are Zambia, a Christian nation,” he said. “This is our opportunity to demonstrate our real character of big brother. We must not allow anger to make us be who we are not. If we retaliate with violence and murder then we are no different from our colleagues from South Africa. We must not target our South African brothers and sisters. We must not allow ourselves to get carried away by the anger of the moment – we must not maim or kill each other, we must not loot and destroy their shops. An eye for an eye only leaves both blind. One of the two must show leadership and as Zambia, this is a challenge we must accept.”
Mumba said alternatively, the response could be a brutal economic blow that would force South Africa to reconsider its ways.
“If we are really angry, we could take any of the following actions: a) We suspend South African Airways; b) We suspend all economic activities to allow South Africa to convince us that they need our business and respect us as partners; c) Impose VISAS on South Africans with immediate effect; d) Downgrade the bilateral relations,” he suggested.
“These actions will be painful to us as well but to heal a wound, one has to be ready to take some medication, even the painful one. Zambia has done this before. Under Kenneth Kaunda, in his quest to liberate South Africa, we boycotted all South African goods and curtailed movement of people between the two countries. Other African nations however continued to trade with Apartheid South Africa. As economically painful as such actions were, a new South Africa was born at the expense of our birth pangs. It is such similar actions which shall help the government of South Africa to quickly resolve their problem,” said Mumba.
“After all the pain and fears are abated, Zambia and South Africa are sister nations who share a common history and a shared future. We must resolve this matter urgently and show the world that we are not barbarians or Stone Age creatures who resolve their differences with pangas. We are better than that. It is time for Zambia to lead this peace effort as a shining example of a Christian nation on the continent.”
Ex-UNZASU president Kelvin Hambwezya commended UNZA students for demonstrating and sending a very strong message to South Africans over their abhorrent, sickening, inhuman and disgusting xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans.
“What is even more annoying is that we are the very country that helped them to get their so-called independence and today they have turned their backs on us and yet the Africans, the black in South Africa are doing these simple jobs,” he said.
Hambwezya said the African migrants in South Africa were only about 1.6 million, controlling 0.0006 per cent of the wealth in that country.
He said the bulk of economic power was under the control of a minority but the South Africans were attacking their own brothers.
He said South Africans were suffering from an inferiority complex left in them by the Apartheid regime.
“Sometimes I regret that they got their so-called independence; their behaviour is unAfrican and they have clearly demonstrated their lack of capacity to manage that country,” Hambwezya said.
He said South Africans were ruining their economy and getting closer to the Zimbabwe situation.
“I can assure you that the whites that ran the affairs of that country are laughing at them and they are also laughing at the whole of Africa that they left a strong economy and they are busy killing fellow blacks,” he said.
Hambwezya said the ANC leadership has lamentably failed and that President Cyril Ramaphosa was a big disappointment.
“The entire ANC leadership is an accomplice to the murder, killing and theft that is taking place in that country,” said Hambwezya.