WIKIPEDIA describes xenophobia as the irrational or unreasoned fear perceived to be foreign or strange, adding that it can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and the perceptions of an in-group and an out-group.
The horrific scenes of foreigners being burnt alive in savage xenophobic attacks in South Africa a few years ago are still fresh in most people.
Fellow Zimbabweans were caught up in the barbaric attacks which were rightly condemned around the world as SA showed the world its dark secret — hatred for fellow Africans that dared venture into the rainbow nation in search of greener pastures. It was evil and our government categorically stated it as much.
So it is with shock that yesterday we reported that the Zanu PF-linked labour union, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade union (ZFTU) has given Nigerians operating businesses in Bulawayo a 14-day ultimatum to vacate the city alleging that the foreigners are not paying wages and not remitting taxes to the government.
In a letter addressed to the Bulawayo State and Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi-Moyo, and copied to the Labour ministry, police and the Nigerian committee, among other stakeholders, ZFTU said Nigerians were abusing local people they have employed and as such should be forced out of the city.
“We request your office to urgently look into the matter as we are pressing for the Nigerians to be picked (sic) out of Bulawayo and their licences be withdrawn until they address the above issue,” part of the letter reads.
ZFTU said most of the Nigerians were a flight risk and on several occasions after being taken to court by workers over non–payment of salaries had fled the country leaving employees desperate.
That Nigerians and other foreigners like Chinese have dominated most of the retail sector in the country is not disputed, but what we disagree with are the ZFTU actions which are tantamount to instigating xenophobia in the country, forgetting that fellow Africans helped Zimbabwe during its hour of need.
Was it not the African Union and Sadc which were instrumental in assisting Zimbabwe deal with its nagging political and economic problems of the past 13 years had not done so?
The peace the country is enjoying today is courtesy of Africans, among them former South African President Thabo Mbeki and his successor current President Jacob Zuma, Botswana’s Ian Khama, Namibia’s Sam Nunjoma and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
It would appear ZFTU has short memories and as such should be warned and told in no uncertain terms it is treading on dangerous territory by fomenting xenophobia. If any of the Nigerians are attacked for whatever reason following their hare-brained ultimatum, its officials should be held accountable.
Xenophobia has not place in Zimbabwe and anywhere in the world for that matter. The ZFTU plan is evil. We say no to xenophobia!