By Byron Mutingwende
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has condemned in the strongest terms, escalating cases of violent attacks targeted at foreign nationals living in South Africa.
In Pretoria and Johannesburg, a number of foreign nationals, including Zimbabweans, have suffered physical and psychological harm. CiZC said that xenophobia defeats the spirit and letter of Article 3 (a) and (f) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which encourages greater unity and solidarity between African States and African people, as well as the promotion of peace, security, and stability on the continent.
“It is our view that these attacks go against the grain of humanity and severely compromise the people-to-people solidarity which has existed between South Africa and her fellow African countries for many years.
“We are of the view that instability in many African countries, a direct consequence of weak democratic culture, is at the heart of the forced migration many Africans have to take in order to escape persecution, poverty and lack of opportunity. Hence, we continue to plead with African governments to be more democratic and responsive so that citizens can meaningfully contribute to their own development, in their own countries. Aspirations of regional and continental integration can only be met if we are all moving together in one direction,” CiZC said in a statement Wednesday.
The South African authorities were urged to shun issuing xenophobic sentiments, and to urgently deploy adequate resources and put in place measures aimed at protecting human life, regardless of nationality.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition pledged to continue working with various stakeholders, including the South African government and civil society establishments in finding a lasting solution to threats of xenophobia.
They implored the South African government to remain true to the African Charter and recommit itself to deeds and the spirit underlying Articles 3, 4, 5, 12, 14 and 28 of the African Charter and noting, in particular Article 4 which provides that:
“Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right”
South Africa was encouraged to instill a sense of security for black Africans and other nationals living in South Africa and uphold domestic, regional and international obligations and call upon the Government of the Republic of South Africa to:
- Immediately stop the attacks on foreign nationals in the country, and put measures in place to ensure that this does not recur in future;
- Fully investigate the circumstances leading to the xenophobic attacks and other acts of violence perpetrated against foreign nationals;
- Ensure that all the perpetrators of the attacks are brought to justice and held accountable for their actions in accordance with the law;
- Take appropriate measures to ensure that the rights of all immigrants are protected in accordance with the applicable international and regional human rights instruments;
- Comply with its obligations under the African Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all other international and regional human rights obligations; and
- Take immediate steps to sign, ratify and domesticate the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.
The Zimbabwean community in South Africa, and other Africans at large were reminded to observe peace and assist in promoting law and order.
“We further encourage them to condemn and report criminal activity by anyone, regardless of citizenship,” CiZC said.