SADC urged to focus on xenophobia in SA

20 Apr 2015 12:30pm
WINDHOEK, 20 APR (NAMPA) - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC-CNGO) has urged SADC to place the xenophobic attacks in South Africa high on the agenda of its forthcoming special summit in Zimbabwe.
The SADC special summit will take place in Harare on 29 and 30 April 2015.
The SADC-CNGO Executive Director Boichoko Ditlhake in a media statement issued on Monday said the xenophobic attacks in which at least six people have so far died should be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all peace loving people.
The attacks started in Durban three weeks ago, after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini last month reportedly said foreigners should leave the country. He has since claimed he was misinterpreted.
“The events have erupted from simmering anger and hostility in South Africa as people lash out in violence against other Africans for what they perceive as the undue advantages they enjoy,” Ditlhake said.
The warning signs have been there for some time, he said, stating that the 2008 outbreak was the start of these attacks.
A series of xenophobic attacks took place all over South Africa in that year.
Ditlhake explained how in January 2015, foreign shopkeepers and non-nationals were the victims of looting, theft and violence in Gauteng.
“The tragic history has shown a serious lack of proper, consistent and principled leadership on the part of the South African government to combat xenophobia,” he said.
He went on to say the responses, when they happened, have all been after-the- fact and have often lacked the sustained seriousness that is required.
“Fellow Africans from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique and the Congo and other countries have been brutalised and are forced to leave their homes, businesses and possessions as they flee in fear of their lives,” Ditlhake said.
He added that the “gratuitous and barbaric nature” of these attacks serves to underline real social tensions and a breakdown of social cohesion arising from growing poverty, unemployment, inequality and sense of despair in South Africa.
A clarion call must be made to the South African people, reminding them of the sacrifices made by fellow Africans in the neighbouring countries and beyond in support of the freedom South African's enjoy today.
“South Africans must understand that many fellow Africans are not coming to South Africa to bring crime or steal but are fleeing conditions of real poverty, conflict and dictatorship. This requires all of us in SADC and Africa to improve the conditions of our people together,” he urged.
Ditlhake said the SADC Council of NGO's will rally with its allies in the faith community, trade unions and social movements to do all that is necessary to prevent a further escalation of the attacks while it seeks long term interventions.