Office of Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr. David Hamadziripi, said yesterday that the embassy had begun to engage the host government to improve the safety and security of migrants who face attacks by groups in the country. neighbor.
Already, most migrants living in poor suburbs in Gauteng province have been given three days’ notice to leave their homes, while some are being forced out of their jobs.
Ambassador Hamadziripi said that while they had yet to reach out to Zimbabweans affected by the potentially volatile situation, they were leaving nothing to chance.
“We have since made contact with the relevant authorities here through our consulate in Johannesburg,” he said.
“The embassy is also concerned about the reports we receive and we are fact-checking with the help of our hosts.
“The idea is to ensure that they deploy the necessary agencies to ensure the safety and security of our nationals.”
He said the Johannesburg consulate was working hard in Gauteng province to verify some reports, as seen in some videos circulating that some migrants were being attacked by local citizens.
A human rights activist, Ms Nobuhle Ajiti, said she had been in contact with a number of migrants in Soweto, Johannesburg, who had fallen victim to attacks by local citizens.
She said most of those affected were from Nigeria, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
“The situation on the ground is tense and migrants are distressed, others have been ordered to leave their homes by the end of this weekend and some have seen their stock, phones and goods taken by the inhabitants.
“We tell them to go to their country of origin. We have therefore managed to find alternative accommodation in the meantime in the local churches while efforts are made to remedy their plight.
Ms Ajiti said that following engagements with actors in the informal sector, it was clear that migrants were renting several stalls to South Africans each month.
She said the volatile situation was being pushed by politicians and vigilante groups from the neighboring country.
Spokesperson for the Zimbabwean community in South Africa, Mr Bongani Mkwananzi, said they had yet to meet with their compatriots who had been directly affected by the ongoing unrest, but were engaging various stakeholders to help those who may be affected.
A Zimbabwean journalist based in South Africa, Mxolisi Ncube, said the main driving force behind attacks on migrants had been the proliferation of right-wing political parties and vigilante groups that were taking advantage of South Africa’s economic downturn. to scapegoat foreigners and build political capital.
“You will note that South Africa has recently experienced an increase in unemployment, crime and economic collapse, with the Covid-19 situation causing further strain on the economy,” Ncube said.
“The former mayor of Johannesburg, Mr Herman Mashaba, built his profile around attacks on migrants. Many political opportunists have made a political niche market out of anger against migrants.
“That’s why Mr. Mashaba and the Patriotic Alliance have used anti-migrant rhetoric as campaign cards the same way Trump has used migrants in the United States. After giving up some seats in local elections in the last year, the EFF, which was pro-migrant, and the ANC, which was indifferent, seem to have changed course and joined the crusade which seems to have rich harvests.
He said in several interviews that representatives of migrant truckers had expressed concern over repeated attacks on their colleagues on major highways.
Echoing the same sentiments, the President of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum and human rights lawyer, Barrister Gabriel Shumba.
He said some political party opportunists and instigators wanted to boost the latest election cycle to garner presidential votes on the back of anti-immigrant sentiment.
“I think their inflammatory rhetoric has the potential to inflame an already volatile situation, which seems mostly anti-Zimbabwean. It is high time that other countries take a firm stance on this and impose measures that can protect migrants. vulnerable in South Africa,” said Adv Shumba.