South Africa obliged to act

MPs Shadreck Mashayamombe, James Maridadi and Tongesayi Mudambo (far right) arrive to deliver a petition at the South African Embassy in Harare yesterday. In the background is an embassy visitor

MPs Shadreck Mashayamombe, James Maridadi and Tongesayi Mudambo (far right) arrive to deliver a petition at the South African Embassy in Harare yesterday. In the background is an embassy visitor

Lovemore Mataire and Nyemudzai Kakore—
South Africa has an obligation under the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the United Nations in 1993 to protect foreigners being attacked because of xenophobia, analysts have said. The analysts noted that the Vienna Declaration lists xenophobia as one of the ills from which a host country should protect foreigners.

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo yesterday said South Africa should have a programme of action to prevent the attacks.

In a post on his Twitter account, Prof Moyo said: “What is important to note is that SA government has obligations under Vienna Declaration to prevent xenophobia within its borders through a programme of action.”

Prof Moyo said if the gruesome attacks had occurred in Zimbabwe, there would have been “cacophonic calls” for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

According to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, all governments are among other obligations required to “take immediate measures and to develop strong policies to prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation, including penal measures, and by the establishment of national institutions to combat such phenomena.”

The analysts’ concerns came as Zimbabwean legislators across the political divided yesterday petitioned the South African embassy demanding the end of xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals.

The legislators visited the South African embassy to deliver their petition.

“It (South African government) has to take decisive and effective measures to stop the slaughter of Zimbabweans and fellow African foreign brothers and sisters and attacks and threats on them and all manner of insecurity on them based on xenophobia,” read part of the petition.

“It takes all urgent and effective measures at its disposal to stop the wave of xenophobia against Zimbabweans and foreign fellow African brothers and sisters.”

The MPs said they were gravely concerned, horrified and apprehensive that people from their constituencies who live work, study and travel to South Africa were in grave danger.

They urged South Africa to respect the African Union Charter which calls for the promotion of understanding among people and co-operation among states.

International law expert Ms Rutendo Mudarikwa said the escalating violence called for an urgent Sadc meeting to deal with the matter.

“There is credible basis for Sadc to call for an urgent regional meeting to deal with the escalating violence in South Afrirca and remind each other of the international obligations needed to protect refugees and foreign nationals in their individual countries,” she said.

Political analyst Dr Pedzisayi Ruhanya said the lack of action by the South African government was not only a violation of their judicial obligations, but also a violation of regional and international human rights laws.

“Remember, when it comes to Zimbabwe, the South Africans were educated, housed in the country during the apartheid era,” he said.

“This is not the best way for South Africa to say thank you. South African was the last country to attain independence to the great sacrifices of African nations like Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.”

Dr Ruhanya said the South African government must protect all foreigners living in their country by condemning inciteful statements by King Goodwill Zwelithini and President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward who recently urged the flushing out of foreigners.

Another analyst, Mr Alexander Rusero, said it was sad that segregation was cascading to black against black, despite South Africa’s attainment of majority rule.

“It is well calculated move that was left in place by the apartheid system where blacks remain on the fringes of the mainstream economy where they fight for little scrumbs, while the whites remain untouched as they control the means of production,” said Mr Rusero.

He said the South African government needed to address issues of empowerment, land ownership and resource management that have remained out of reach of most black South Africans.

Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president Chief Fortune Charumbira told our Bulawayo Bureau yesterday that they will meet tomorrow to deliberate on the violence.

He said the chiefs were in the process of engaging the House of Chiefs in South Africa to deal with the attacks.

Chief Charumbira said the recent attacks could have been ignited by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s remarks calling on foreigners to pack their bags and leave South Africa.

Five people, including one Zimbabwaean, have died since the xenophobic violence started in Durban on Friday last week.