XENOPHOBIA: Tempers flare in Zimbabwe


Information minister Jonathan Moyo last week scaled up his criticism of South Africa’s handling of the xenophobic attacks as local churches questioned Pretoria’s reaction to the crisis.


Moyo had been the most vocal government minister after the anti-foreigner attacks worsened in the past week and had used social media to express his outrage.

South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday appealed for calm saying the violence was unacceptable. Moyo took to the  microblogging site Twitter to criticise Zuma’s speech.

The minister said South Africa had shown that it was “xenophobic” and could not be held as an example for Africa.

“Africans who saw South Africa as an exemplary constitutional democracy now know it as a xenophobic place,” he said.

Moyo’s sentiments were shared by many on social networking sites who had no kind words for South Africans and Zuma’s government.

The Ecunemical Church Leaders Forum said South Africa lacked political will to tackle the deadly attacks against foreigners.

“We call upon all those involved in inciting, maiming and the brutal murder of their fellow Africans to stop forthwith and the many South Africans who are equally disgusted to explore non-violent means to communicate feelings to their government and the global community,” the clergy said in a statement.

“We call upon the Southern African Development Community to act swiftly before this escalates into genocide or destabilises the region.

“We call upon all countries with victims in South Africa to reflect on their own governance and internal policies and take corrective measures to avoid migration of their own people only to become victims of such attacks.”

Zimbabwe National Students Union’s (Zinasu) president Gilbert Mutubuki was quoted saying locals should hit back by attacking South African businesses.

“Right now we have South African businesses such as Pick n Pay operating freely, but our brothers are being butchered in South Africa,” Mutubuki was quoted telling students at the University of Zimbabwe yesterday.

“Today in the morning, South African students at the University of Zimbabwe were having breakfast freely in the dining hall, but our sisters and brothers are getting killed.

“It’s high time we did the same to all South African businesses until they stop all this nonsense.”

Meanwhile, South African police fired rubber bullets yesterday to disperse crowds setting immigrant businesses ablaze as attacks against foreigners continued in Johannesburg.

Chanting and singing, machete-armed residents burned down shops owned by foreigners, including a Nigerian dealership in the country’s largest city.

Immigrants carrying bricks accused police of not doing enough to protect them as businesses smouldered.

Violence targeting immigrant shops started recently in the port city of Durban, where two foreigners and three South Africans were killed.

Locals have accused African immigrants of taking jobs and committing crimes. The unemployment rate in South Africa is 25%, according to government figures.

Zuma slammed the assertion, saying his government was addressing social and economic issues brought up by citizens.

He said immigrants contributed to the country’s economy while others brought scarce skills. – Additional reporting by agencies