Zim industry frets over SA xenophobic threats on imports

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By Alois Vinga

THE ongoing xenophobic attacks in neighbouring South Africa will cause damage and theft on Zimbabwean goods transited through the Durban port if combative action is not taken on time through diplomatic engagements, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Sifelani Jabangwe has warned.

Speaking to Sunday, Jabangwe urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to urgently intervene through diplomacy.

“The Durban ports are normally used by several countries in the Southern Africa Development Community for purposes of receiving and sending goods.

“It is important for the Zimbabwean government to urgently activate all the diplomatic efforts and bring the attacks to a halt before severe losses are incurred,” he said.

The CZI boss said he had received reports on alleged attacks on truckers in the volatile city.

Jabangwe said if perpetrators were not stopped from the acts, there was high risk criminals could take advantage and resort to theft under the guise of xenophobia.

“So apart from the feared losses, some of our members have since delayed journeys to deliver and pick up their goods for fear of the unknown and obviously, that has a repercussion on trade because the more time you take, the higher the costs,” Jabangwe said.

The development comes at a time neighbouring Mozambique which is one of Zimbabwe’s preferred shipping routes, was recently ravaged by the devastating Cyclone Idai which caused massive damage to road infrastructure.

“Options at our disposal are very few at the present moment considering that the eastern routes are impassable while the remaining ports will be overwhelmed as donations to assist Cyclone Idai hard hit areas will keep flowing in for most parts of the year and Durban, being strategic, needs to be very peaceful and stable,” said Jabangwe.

Following the attacks, South Africa’s International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has since called for calm in the neighbouring country, urging her compatriots to treat foreigners with respect.

“South African companies and our citizens are welcomed and loved across the continent. Here at home, we should do the same. We must embrace our neighbours,” she said in a recent statement.

Authorities in Durban have also described the attacks as “criminally motivated”.

Previous xenophobic attacks have seen wild scenes of violence with machete-wielding residents burning foreign nationals alive using tyres while also looting and burning down shops run by foreigners.