Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Where is Phandu when we need him the most?

The xenophobic attacks currently going on in South Africa must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. African leaders must express their dismay at the barbaric actions meted out on fellow Africans by these South African hooligans. African leaders must, for once, put aside diplomacy and condemn Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini for his irresponsible and reckless statements which, without a doubt, sparked these unwarranted and unjustified attacks on foreigners in South Africa. I’m shocked that despite his speech being captured on audio, King Zwelithini wants to claim the media took his statement out of context and misrepresented his true views.

In his speech which was full of xenophobic connotations, the King can be heard calling for the South African government to chase out foreigners from the country or else they, as South African citizens, will carry out the evictions. We all know how influential traditional leaders are in Africa especially the Zulus who still hold their traditional leaders in high regard. The Zulus are the kind who would kill for their King and it is a given that they would do anything and everything that their King calls for. The situation is not helped by the fact President Jacob Zuma is also Zulu, making him Zwelethini’s subject,┬á and finds it hard to reprimand or even condemn the King.

Instead of showing maturity and taking responsibility for his irresponsible remarks, King Zwelithini wants to blame the media. Just when we all thought he had regained his sanity when he called a summit to address the xenophobic attacks in Durban, it turned out the summit was just a platform to bring together the hooligans and celebrate their despicable behavior. According to media reports, foreign ambassadors were met with boos and jeers from those gathered at Moses Mabhida Stadium where the summit was held. The crowd was singing songs that contained xenophobic messages and even praising King Zwelithini for setting the ball rolling in the cleansing of fellow Africans. Now this is where we need people like our former Foreign Affairs Minister Phandu Skelemani.

Even though he at times came across as someone who bites more than he could chew, Skelemani never shied away from condemning other countries where they overstepped the boundaries of democracy. Skelemani is that guy who made a lot of noise even where atrocities commited in other countries had no bearing on Botswana or its nationals. He barked at countries that I’m sure have no clue there is a country called Botswana. I therefore have no doubt he would have called South Africa to order given the close ties we have with the┬á country and more so that we have many of our citizens working and schooling in South Africa. Skelemani is that chap who threw us into fits of laughter when he threatened to sue the founder of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden for leaking Botswana’s classified information.

Now if he can threaten Snowden who has eluded super powers like America, there is no doubt Skelemani would have long lashed out at King Zwelithini. He would have told President Zuma to act quickly before he sends BDF troops to go and arrest those hooligans. It is shameful that despite of this nonsense going on in South Africa, our government seems reluctant to issue a statement condemning those few South Africans who derive gratification in the brutal slaughter of fellow Africans. I know African presidents are always afraid to reach out to their counterparts when they derail, probably because they are all of the same feather but I would have thought President Khama would use his position as deputy SADC Chairman to issue a statement. We are not even suggesting Khama should lash out at Zuma. All we are saying is Botswana’s voice of solidarity with the affected Africans must be heard. We are saying Botswana should condemn irresponsible statements from leaders such as King Zwelithini.

We are saying it is irresponsible for the Botswana government to refuse to repatriate its citizens, especially students in Durban where the situation is very volatile. It doesn’t help for our government to say they are still monitoring the situation when evidence is all out there to show it is not safe to be a foreigner in Durban at this time. How sad that our government is telling Batswana students to remain indoors if they want to be safe. What is the point of staying indoors when you cannot study or even go to the shops? Is our government waiting for a Motswana student to be killed for them to appreciate the dangerous situation in Durban? Come to think of it, it is cheaper to bring those students home alive than bring them as corpses. The government should be monitoring the situation by testing the waters and gambling with the lives of Batswana who are based in the Kwazulu Natal province.┬á

And Botswana will be justified in condemning these xenophobic attacks because our government spends loads of money on South African tertiary institutions. It is very unfortunate that many African countries, including Botswana, are reluctant to remind South Africans of the sacrifices that African countries made during the liberation struggle in their country. I don’t know if South Africans love God but I know for sure they loved Nelson Mandela and one would have thought they would do as he would have loved for them to do.

[email protected]┬á Twitter:@kuvuki


Read this week's paper