SADC, AU urged to act on xenophobia

As xenophobic violence continued unabated in South Africa last week, the African Diaspora Forum recently called for a decisive policy shift to provide a lasting solution from continental leaders.

Women and children affected by xenophobia in South Africa.
Women and children affected by xenophobia in South Africa.

At least four foreign nationals were killed and hundreds others displaced in the port city of Durban. The migrants rights group wrote a letter to the African Union Commission, requesting that the issue of population mobility and human security be included in the agenda of the AU Summit scheduled for South Africa later this year.

“It is our understanding that we Africans have a challenge on our hands as far as protection of immigrants by host countries/states and their freedom to settle and/or conduct business in any African country of choice are concerned,” reads the letter, signed by ADF spokesman Obvious Katsaura.

The letter, copied to the AU, SADC, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, International Organisation for Migration and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, was sent a few days after South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe, who is also the SADC and AU chair, noticeably ignored the xenophobic attack that raged in Zuma’s homeland of KwaZulu-Natal when they met for “business” in Pretoria last week.

“Over the past 15 years there has been increased ‘anti-foreigner’ violence in several African countries including, but not limited to, the Ivory Coast (1999), Congo Brazzaville (2012, 2014), Angola (2012) and South Africa (2008, 2015).

This violence has been called xenophobia, afro-phobia, ethno-phobia, and hate crime. Regardless of the name the principal issues are, we have are violations of fundamental human rights and an undermining of continental integration, peace, and security that is detrimental to the development potentials of our continent,” says the letter.

It remains to be seen if Mugabe, himself a self-declared racist, will be willing to steer the SADC and AU into taking action on foreigner hate on the continent. The nonagenarian leader’s fellow nationals have been victims of such hate, but his silence and that of his government has been attributed to his belief that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are opposition supporters and therefore “enemies of the state”.

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Post published in: Africa News

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