President Ian Khama last week overcame his phobia for heads of state meetings and attended the SADC extraordinary summit in Harare. Reports coming from Harare say South African President Jacob Zuma found himself on the receiving end when the host, Zimbabwe’s life President Robert Mugabe lambasted him for the recent xenophobia attacks in Kwazulu Natal province which affected mostly Zimbabwean immigrants. It is reported that President Zuma took the liberty to present to other African leaders various measures that are being implemented by his government to tackle the problem of xenophobia. Probably waking up from a deep nap, Mugabe is said to have gotten emotional and spoke at length about xenophobic attacks.
In his rage, Mugabe went on to blame Zuma for the xenophobic attacks and for siding with King Goodwill Zwelithini who made remarks allegedly responsible for sparking off xenophobic violence. Yes, I agree with Mugabe that when these attacks started, Zuma came across as indifferent and failed to publicly rebuke King Zwelithini for his repugnant and irresponsible remarks on foreigners. However, I do not believe Mugabe has any authoritative temerity, let alone moral ground, to blame anyone for the mishaps that befall his people in the diasporas. Many of those Zimbabweans who were affected by xenophobic attacks in South Africa are not in that country out of their love for South Africa. They are in South Africa because there is no life in Zimbabwe.
They fled their country because it has got nothing to offer them. Our brothers and sisters from Zimbabwe are roaming our streets to eke out a living. They are not in South Africa or Botswana because Zimbabwe has bad weather conditions. No, they are here because Zimbabwe has bad governance record. They are being attacked in South Africa because their president has failed them.
They are being exploited in Botswana because their president has turned their country into a living hell. They are being trafficked to become prostitutes in Mozambique because Mugabe has not given them any hope for anything better. I therefore do not understand where Mugabe gets the cheek to throw tantrums when the issue of xenophobia is being discussed. And like I mentioned last week, I totally condemn those xenophobic attacks but in my condemnation, I want to face the truth on the true source of this influx of foreigners in South Africa.
It has always been my stance that, these foreigners come to our countries because of the horrible situations in their countries and instead of blaming them or blaming those who meet them with hatred, we need to blame the people who make them run away from their countries. When I heard that during the SADC summit Zuma and Khama were bold to tell it like it is, I was delighted that finally our leaders are doing away with their misguided diplomacy and are beginning to point out the wrongs that bedevil our continent.
“As much as we have a problem that is alleged to be xenophobic, our sister countries contribute to this. Why are their citizens not in their countries?” Zuma is reported to have raised this very important question at the summit as he was addressing the root causes of the xenophobia away from the symptoms that come with it. And Zuma deserves an answer. The ever arrogant Mugabe is reported to have gone silent as Zuma posed these questions.
The answers are there for all of us to understand why these people flock to South Africa and Botswana. They are running away from leaders such as Mugabe. It is therefore plausible to put the blame on leaders such as Mugabe who make their people jump from the pot straight into the fire, as we saw during those xenophobic attacks. It was also pleasing to learn that our President also lent support to Zuma, saying instead of focusing on xenophobia issues, SADC leaders must address the root cause of the problem that include bad leadership and economic mismanagement which trigger waves of mostly illegal immigrants. “Let us address real issues and stop behaving as if South Africa is an employment bureau for the African continent”, Khama is quoted in the Zimbabwean media as having told Mugabe, who has been president since Khama was in diapers.
Until African leaders get their act together and stop looting their countries and terrorizing citizens, xenophobic attacks will never completely die away because more illegal immigrants will continue to come here or go to South Africa and eventually overstay their welcome, forcing locals to chase them away and the chase is never amenable. One can only hope Zuma and Khama will continue to put pressure on that old geezer in Zimbabwe to stop dragging Zimbabwe along to his grave. Zimbabwe is a great country with great citizens who love their country but cannot live in their country because Mugabe has turned it into a living hell.
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