Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma yesterday said he would brief both Sadc, the African Union and the United Nations on the barbaric attacks on African immigrants in his country.
In his speech on the occasion of South Africa’s 21st Freedom Day commemorations, President Zuma made some statements that analysts said were bound to fan the scourge rather than stem it.
Said President Zuma: “It is our firm belief that the efforts of the African Union to promote peace, stability and democracy in every corner of the continent will in the long run reduce the need for people to migrate towards the South.
“The promotion of intra-Africa trade, regional integration, infrastructure and other economic interventions is also designed to improve the economic situation in sister countries. The end result will be that brothers and sisters will eventually no longer need to leave their countries in search of a better life.
“We are preparing a formal report for Sadc, African Union and the United Nations on the matter,’’ he said.
Ordinarily, an extraordinary summit is convened to discuss only one agenda item, and the agenda for the indaba that begins tomorrow is industrialisation as decided at the bloc’s 34th ordinary summit in Victoria Falls in August last year. However, Heads of State and Government are free to amend the agenda and tackle other issues of concern to the region, a senior Government official has said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha said the Council of Ministers and their officials, who have been meeting, had no authority to amend the agenda as that was the prerogative of the Heads of State and Government.
Ambassador Bimha’s comments come in the wake of claims in some sections of the media that the summit would avoid discussing xenophobia gripping South Africa.
But President Zuma then announced in his Freedom Day speech that he would brief the regional bloc, the AU and UN amid reports some member-states had indicated that they would bring the matter for discussion.
Several countries, whose citizens were affected by the barbaric Afrophobia, evacuated their citizens who were willing to leave South Africa many of whom told harrowing tales of public lynching, hackings, stabbings and beatings at the hands of their hosts.
Though official figures put the fatalities at seven, there are reports the figures are higher as some of the murders went unreported.
“An Extraordinary Summit discusses the agenda that would have been agreed upon,” said Ambassador Bimha. “Sadc Council of Ministers and officials have no mandate to amend the agenda. It is only the Heads of State and Government that can amend it, if they so wish.”
Ambassador Bimha said discussions on xenophobia could not be ruled out at the Summit, but the prerogative rested with the Heads of State and Government.
“The agenda can only be amended at summit level,” he said. “We cannot rule out the issue of xenophobia if it is raised at that level.”
The Sadc Council of Ministers, which is part of the regional bloc’s Extraordinary Summit, held its meeting yesterday and received recommendations on the region’s industrialisation draft and Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan.
The Sadc Council of Ministers was a precursor to the full summit to be held tomorrow.
This is part of the process towards adopting a comprehensive industrialisation strategy that will deepen the regional bloc’s integration strategy and accelerate poverty eradication.