The timing of President Jacob Zuma’s rhetorical question as to why African immigrants some of whom have been victims of xenophobic violence are not in their countries is all wrong, coming at the wrong time from the wrong person.
At a time when the situation is extremely tense and volatile, nothing should be said by any South African leader which could be construed by the perpetrators of the killings and violence as providing a foundation or justification for the killings, violence, looting and destruction of property.
At this moment every action and every word of the South African government, more so President Zuma, must be directed at unreservedly condemning and stopping the killings and violence.
Whatever might be the rights and wrongs of the illegal immigrants and whatever the wrongs of other African governments which have caused the influx of illegal immigrants into South Africa, these cannot come from the mouth of the South African government at a time when such pronouncements could be used as a pretext for continued violence.
Nothing else is more important than saving the lives of potential victims.
It is for the rest of patriotic Africans, including ourselves as the MDC whose words are unlikely to trigger any further violence to put the issue of xenophobia and associated violence in its proper perspective.
When all is said and done the causes of Xenophobia are a result of failed states both in Europe and Africa due to misrule, mismanagement of economies and leadership deficit in those countries. The blame lies as much on the shoulders of these regimes as it does on the perpetrators of the violence.
We as a party acknowledge and subscribe to the principle of sanctity of life and respect for property and for that reason we condemn the loss of innocent lives, violence and abuse for whatever reason. The right to life is not negotiable.
But we have a problem with the undue pressure placed upon the South African government by failed states.
That South Africa is a trading partner both formally and informally is a matter of fact but the outbreak of violence must be a wake -up call for an urgent need to address the social and economic issues engulfing the continent. The problem and solutions thereof cannot be confined to Pretoria.
This is a Pan African socio-economic problem whose solution resides in every African country. Answers must not only come from Pretoria.
Where is Harare? Maputo? Abuja? Mogadishu? What is freedom? And what is the meaning of freedom if citizens of a sovereign state are reduced to beggars without integrity in foreign lands?
The truth hurts, but in all honesty we as a nation are an embarrassing lot purely because of lack of self-introspection, and hence must admit that the unacceptable and tragic xenophobic violence in South Africa calls for some moment of truth on our part as a country and for all of us as Africans.
It is a fact that Zimbabweans living in South Africa are there because of the misrule and philosophy of hatred that Mugabe and his regime unleashes on its own citizens who have fled the country for both political and economic reasons and some remain afraid of coming back home.
Meanwhile Zanu PF and its plethora of megaphones has been the loudest in apportioning blame on the South African government and coming up with the most ridiculous conspiracies which are informed by the primitive belief that diesel can ooze from a mountain ready for use.
This is the same regime that has failed to deliver on its promise to create two million jobs before elections yet they want to be the first and sinless persons to cast the first stone on the supposed offender.
Notwithstanding the above, we would like to caution President Zuma, the South African government and the general South African public against viewing the influx of foreigners to their country in an all negative light.
It is our humble submission that most of the populations in top global economies are made up of immigrants who provide much needed skills.
Barring the complexities of the situation and composition of our nationals resident in South Africa, we still believe that we provide the country with the best human capital.
South Africa needs to reflect and think very hard on its trade policies and its commitment to the industrialization of the Sadc region as a whole, which continues to suffer huge trade deficits as against South Africa.
If South Africa is to avoid the influx of immigrants into the country, it has to realise that the rapid industrialization and development of its sister countries in the Sadc region is an imperatur for its own secure development.
Policies which promote only the further industrialization of South Africa while using the rest of the Sadc region as freely available markets for South African manufactured goods are not in the long term interests of South Africa itself, and the region in its entirety.
As MDC we shall continue to work on finding solutions to the problems bedeviling the country so that our people can come back home and Zimbabwe may in the near future be regarded as one of the safest and prosperous countries in the region.
Our aim is to create a Zimbabwe which is safe politically, economically and socially. Our people should not continue to be economic refugees, abused, harassed, beaten and trampled upon in foreign countries when they can come back home and be safe.
Welshman Ncube is MDC president