By Staff Reporter
JOHANNESBURG – A Zimbabwean opposition leader lashed out at South African President Cyril Ramaphosa this week, saying the ANC leader’s recent utterances about migrants in South Africa were symptomatic of mental slavery.
During a recent campaign rally for the ANC, Ramaphosa made was has been viewed as an inflammatory and xenophobic statement when he publicly complained about migrants who established businesses in South Africa without proper registration documents.
“Everybody just arrives in our townships and rural areas and set up businesses without licences and permits, we are going to bring this to an end. And those who are operating illegally wherever they come from must now know…” Ramaphosa said
Although he has engaged in a fire-fighting mode and tried to backtrack on that statement, the South African President has since been blamed for inciting the recent xenophobic attacks in the KwaZulu-Natal coastal city of Durban, which has left a number of displaced migrants desperately seeking shelter in community halls, mosques and police stations.
This week, Neferkare Nembeware, the UK-based President of little-known Maat Zimbabwe, said Ramaphosa’s utterances were unfortunate, as they stoked the flames in which protestors viciously attacked migrants, especially in poor neighborhoods.
“Black Africans, Bantu are not foreigners anywhere on the African soil,” said Nembeware.
“I am not sure Ramphosa is aware of the Berlin Confrence of 1884-5 at all and what that means for Africans were not invited to the Berlin Conference when our countries were partitioned, creating the present borders. Africans lived together in harmony before colonialism. It is important to know one’s history to get rid of mental slavery.”
Attacks against African migrants and the looting of their small businesses have become routine in South Africa, especially following some careless statements by politicians, including senior members of the ruling African National Congress, which has largely been blamed for supporting institutionalized hate against fellow Africans as it hides from its own service delivery failures.
Immigrants are often the focus of anger amongst South Africans hit by a chronic job shortage and the limited progress made by many poor blacks since white minority rule ended in 1994.
South Africa is host to millions of foreign nationals – many of them economic and political refugees from across Africa, including Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Somalia, DRC, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Malawi.
Nembeware said the real problem obtaining in South Africa was not necessarily xenophobia or lack of jobs, but “it is mental slavery and we need to cure this cancer which is rampant not only in South Africa but most of Africa.”
He pointed out the refugee problem was not unique to South Africa.
“Uganda actually has more refugees than South Africa from Burundi, Congo, Rwanda and Kenya amongst other countries, yet not a single African has been killed or attacked for being foreigners,” he said, adding xenophobia must be urgently addressed.
“This cancer has happened before prior to Ramaphosa so the South Africans need to address it urgently with the help of SADC and the African Union. However, we have witnessed the occurrence of xenophobia immediately after reckless statements from South African leader Ramaphosa addressing ANC supporters promising to deal with ‘foreigners’. This has directly led to the current disturbances. One cannot campaign on a mental slavery ticket leading to the loss of life, no excuses.”