PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Saturday expressed his “shock and disgust” at “horrible” xenophobic attacks in neighbouring South Africa in his first public reaction to the violence that has swept parts of Durban and Johannesburg.
Addressing crowds gathered in the pouring rain in Harare for official celebrations of Zimbabwe’s 35th anniversary of independence, Mugabe said: “The act of treating other Africans in that horrible way can never be condoned by anyone.”
“Our own African people on the African continent must be treated with respect.”
“If there is any issue arising from influx [of foreigners]… surely that can be discussed and measures can be taken to deal with and address the situation,” Mugabe said towards the end of a 30-minute speech at Harare’s national sports stadium.
Two Zimbabweans are believed to have been killed in the violence. Zimbabwe is preparing to repatriate more than 1 500 of its citizens in the wake of the attacks, which broke out shortly after Mugabe made a state visit to South Africa with his wife Grace earlier this month.
“We say on our behalf and on behalf of SADC and indeed on behalf of the African Union: That must never happen again. Never happen again in South Africa or any other country,” said the 91-year-old president, who is currently the chair of the AU and Southern African Development Community.
“We are glad that President [Jacob] Zuma has expressed his abhorrence just as we are doing at what happened,” Mugabe said.
The attacks have outraged Zimbabweans and many were waiting to hear whether Mugabe would speak out against them in his speech.
His ruling Zanu-PF party has already condemned the attacks. (new zimbabwe.com)