Zuma assures foreigners over xenophobia

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President Jacob Zuma has assured foreigners
including Zimbabweans living in South Africa that they
are protected by a “friendly” legislative system which
accommodates everyone.
President Zuma’s comments follow recent utterances
by Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini calling for the
deportation of foreigners from South Africa.
Ironically, President Zuma’s eldest son, Edward, last
week also came out in full support of King Zwelithini’s
controversial statement.
King Zwelithini reportedly made the remarks, which
sparked criticism, at a moral regeneration rally in
Pongola, northern KwaZulu-Natal, a fortnight ago.

President Zuma’s spokesperson, Mr Mac Maharaj,
yesterday told our Bulawayo Bureau that South Africa
had a liberal and open system that allowed everyone
to stay in the country as long as they had the correct
documents.
“Our policy as the South African government is that we
have a very clear and well defined liberal system that
allows anyone to be in our country legally regardless
of where they come from. We believe our country has
an open and friendly legislative system to
accommodate our neighbours including other
countries in Africa and beyond,” said Mr Maharaj.
“Inasmuch as we have our own socio-economic
problems just like any other country, we firmly believe
that we need to deal with them rather than entirely
blaming it on foreigners. We have one of the most
liberal systems in the world,” he said.
When asked to comment on King Zwelithini’s remarks
calling for the deportation of foreigners, Mr Maharaj
said: “I only speak on the official government position.
His statements in the newspapers have nothing to do
with the Presidency. You better speak to him.”
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi last week
condemned the Zulu king’s comments, saying they
were highly inflammatory and against Sadc protocols.
King Zwelithini’s remarks also sparked outrage from
the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)
and opposition parties, which described them as
“highly irresponsible”.
The king’s remarks were made against the backdrop
of rising tensions between foreign nationals and locals
in the wake of recent xenophobic attacks in the
neighbouring country.
The violence began in Soweto, Gauteng, in January
and later spread to KwaZulu-Natal, where it has
claimed three lives.
Three weeks ago, a Zimbabwean woman who was
wrongly accused of killing a young boy, was lynched
by an angry mob in a shanty township near South
Africa’s capital, Pretoria.
The woman was burnt alive while another man, also
from Zimbabwe, managed to escape after police
intervened. The Zimbabwean pair had been accused
of bewitching the boy. A probe later revealed that the
boy had been electrocuted.
South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic
Alliance (DA), described King Zwelithini’s comments
as “highly irresponsible”.
“Particularly given the recent spate of xenophobic
attacks in South Africa, he should do the right thing —
retract and apologise,” said DA national spokesperson
Phumzile van Damme.
The SAHRC said it was looking into the matter.
“His utterances, if proven true, would border on
xenophobia,” said SAHRC spokesperson Isaac
Mangena. The Zulu monarch has refused to
apologise.