By Anna Chibamu/Agencies
ZIMBABWEANS living and working in South Africa are reported to be “worried and tense” over reports of fresh xenophobic attacks in the neighbouring country.
In a statement Wednesday, the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) chairperson Gabriel Shumba most foreigners in South Africa were “under siege”.
“We are of course worried and tense as many foreigners now appear under siege. Events that have taken place these last few days are extremely alarming, but fortunately, it is not the generality of South Africans that are instigating the new wave of xenophobia that we have seen in some parts of Gauteng and some areas of KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.
“It is some political opportunists and instigators, some of whom have openly stated that all foreigners ‘unless they are brain surgeons’, have to be ‘removed from communities and sent back to their countries’. We view these statements as extremely inflammatory and irresponsible.”
Shumba added: “We are anxious and concerned that as with previous xenophobic violence, the response of the law enforcement authorities will be the usual apathetic and tardy.
“We call upon the SADC and African Union institutions to protect foreign nationals’ rights as previous experience has indicated that there either is an unwillingness or inability to act sooner rather than later.”
There are an estimated three million Zimbabweans living in South Africa as political or economic refugees.
In recent days, there have been marches in South Africa against African migrants. In Soweto, Sunday, Nhlanhla Lux of Operation Dudula and his followers removed foreign traders from the Bara taxi rank. They misidentified some traders and evicted a few South African traders too. Lux is distributing a pamphlet calling for a day of action against foreigners on 22 January.
“Saturday 22 Jan 2022, all young people must print their CVs or copy of their IDs and visit restaurants to peacefully sing and demonstrate that all low skill jobs belong to South Africans,” Lux said.
On Tuesday, Patriotic Alliance combed through the Johannesburg City Council building, counting and threatening foreign-born staff. Party leader Gayton McKenzie amplified videos of young party activists shouting at council employees.
“The City of Johannesburg is full of foreigners working there whilst we have unemployed graduates sitting at home. We have instructed some of our councillors to deal with this matter. The Chief Whip has a Zimbabwean office manager,” Mckenzie said.
He has said 2022 will be the year of the campaign against migrants working in South Africa and the businesses that employ them.