ZIMBABWEAN migrants in South Africa have blasted Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, describing him as “xenophobic and arrogant”, after he allegedly displayed a hostile attitude towards them during a meeting held at his offices yesterday.
By Khanyile Mlotshwa/VENERANDA LANGA
The meeting was expected to find ways to end hostilities between South African citizens and foreigners based in Johannesburg.
Ngqabutho Mabhena, chairman of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZCSA), said the meeting ended in a deadlock, as Mashaba turned hostile and attempted to politicise the issue.
“On December 19 2016, we joined the African Diaspora Forum (ADF) to hand over a memorandum to the mayor of Johannesburg, following his xenophobic utterances,” he said.
“Today (yesterday), we were part of the meeting in the mayor’s office with ADF, as a follow up to the December 19 memorandum and the recent xenophobia attacks. Our meeting this morning did not achieve anything at all. The mayor of Johannesburg is xenophobic and arrogant. He seeks to deal with issues outside his mandate as part of the Democratic Alliance political programme for 2019.”
The meeting comes after a fresh round of xenophobic attacks preceded by an anti-immigration march in Pretoria on Friday last week and the continued looting of foreign-owned small shops in Pretoria and parts of Johannesburg at the weekend.
Mabhena said Mashaba was insisting on the “documentation of foreign nationals before protecting undocumented migrants in and around the city of Johannesburg”.
“This, in our view, is reactionary, as he seeks to recruit migrants into his political agenda. While we support the call for the documentation of migrants, we reject the call that undocumented migrants are involved in criminal activities. Most undocumented migrants are abused and exploited by their employers, who force them to work long hours for a little pay,” he said.
Mabhena added that the ZCSA would continue to work with South African President Jacob Zuma’s government in seeking a solution to the migration challenges facing that country.
“As the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, we will continue working with the Department of Home Affairs on documentation issues,” he said.
Meanwhile, local human rights group, ZimRights has called on Sadc to urgently intervene and stop the xenophobic attacks happening in South Africa.
“ZimRights condemns the recent acts of xenophobic violence on African migrants, who include Zimbabweans in South Africa.The physical violence, destruction of property and abuse of African foreigners constitutes a violation of human rights, which the South African authorities and society must end urgently,” ZimRights said in a statement yesterday.
“The Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) must take the issue of the migrant population and the human rights problem of xenophobic violence as a regional problem that South Africa needs to solve together with source countries. The xenophobic violence should be looked at from all sides as a hate crime and symptom of a genuine migration flow exacerbated by skewed regional development.
“For Zimbabwean migrants, there are push factors that drive them to South Africa such as the economic and governance deficiencies, which resulted in about 200 000 Zimbabweans, leaving the country and getting officially registered under the Special Dispensation Permit that expires on December 31, 2017. Equally, outside Sadc, other African countries where migrants come, such as Nigeria, have security concerns.”