Southern Africa: Union Implores SADC to Act On Xenophobic Attacks in SA

The secretary general of the National Union of Namibian Workers says president Hage Geingob should intervene as SADC chairperson to contain the recent outbreak of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

Job Muniaro shared his concerns with The Namibian on Sunday, saying the attacks would negatively impact trade relationships between countries.

The latest brutal attacks on foreigners is presumed to have been sparked by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa’s anti-foreigner remarks during an election campaign last week. “Everybody just arrives in our townships and rural areas and sets up businesses without licences and permits. We are going to bring this to an end; and those who are operating illegally, wherever they come from must now know,” is the statement a South African media organisation has dubbed “a warning shot from number one”.

The BBC reported on Sunday that a week ago, three people died amid protests targeting shops, many of which are foreign-owned in Springfield, Kenville area, in Durban.

Around 50 people sought shelter at a police station when a group of unemployed South Africans forced them out of their homes in the night. Perpertrators of such attack have accused foreign nationals of taking their jobs. This is not the first xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Seven immigrants died in Johannesburg and Durban in similar attacks in 2015, while in 2008, 60 people lost their lives in the worse recorded xenophobic attacks experienced in South Africa.

Muniaro said the address of issues of indifference should not be solved through the death of other people.

Referring to a recent incident in which an Intercape bus en route to South Africa was set alight in Malawi – in what is seen as retaliation to the xenophobic attacks – Muniaro raised fears about Namibia experiencing the same fate.

He asked whether South Africa wanted to stop pursuing business interests with other countries and how Namibia would sustain itself as most of the country’s imports are from South Africa.

“This needs serious and urgent address,” Muniaro emphasised.

Zimbabwean Mbali Ncube (37), who lives in Johannesburg and works in a hotel, condemned the attacks via social media.

She did not say much to The Namibian, in fear of victimisation.

A Namibian based in South Africa who declined to be named as she has not experienced the attacks first-hand, acknowledged that xenophobia is a real problem in South Africa. She told The Namibian that she is “removed from it” as she is assumed to be South African.

South African politicians, including Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema have taken to social media, to participate in the #StopXenophobia awareness campaign.

Speaking during a presidential dinner hosted by the African National Congress (ANC) on Saturday, Ramaphosa seemed to have made a U-turn from his previous anti-foreingner remarks.

He said South Africa will remain indebted to African countries that supported the country during its pursuit for democracy.

Ramaphosa noted that there are many foreign nationals living in the country legally, and that they respect the country’s laws and its people.

He added that the attacks directed at foreign nationals are not reflective of South Africa, which he described as a “tolerant country”.

“It is disappointing that our country is experiencing attacks on foreign nationals. These attacks go against everything we stand for as a nation. We reject all kinds of xenophobia, we strongly condemn violent attacks against fellow Africans,” Dlamini-Zuma twitted yesterday.

Malema, whilst addressing his party’s supporters during an EFF rally in Free State on Sunday, suggested that the ongoing xenophobic attacks are racially motivated.

The EFF leader theorised that the divison among Africans has been caused by white people who prefer employing foreigners over South Africans.

“There is no Nigerian who stole an industry and hired Nigerians only, there is no Zimbabwean whose got a farm in Knysna or Stellenbosch, who hired Zimbabweans. It is your white people who hire Zimbabweans [and] pay them lowly so that you can fight among yourselves as Africans.”

He added that borders are imposed by white people who intended to divide Africans.

Malema further said, he is ashamed to call himself a South African, following the happenings in Durban.

“I have never seen you doing that to a Chinese. I have never seen you doing that to a white person who doesn’t have papers. I have never seen you doing that to an Indian who doesn’t have papers,” Malema said.

On Saturday News24 reported that South African international relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu had called for an urgent meeting with African ambassadors to discuss the current spate of violence.


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Publish date : 2019-04-02 13:28:22

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