Why Are Your Citizens Fleeing Your Countries: President Zuma Queries His neighbours


SOUTH AFRICA’S PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma yesterday brewed fresh controversy when he appeared to blame a wave of xenophobic attacks that recently rocked Durban and Johannesburg on his country’s neighbours. Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia repatriated hundreds of their citizens caught up in the violence, but victims also included immigrants from further afield, including Nigerians. Official government figures show seven people have been killed in the attacks, but eyewitness accounts seem to suggest there could be more. In his Freedom Day address to mark South Africa’s 21st independence anniversary, Zuma took a swipe at countries that have criticised his government for the violence targeted at migrants. Zuma, digressing from his prepared speech, fired a salvo at critics asking: “As much as we have a problem that is alleged to be xenophobic, our sister countries contribute to this. Why are their citizens not in their countries and in South Africa?” Zuma appeared to be particularly piqued by Nigeria’s decision to recall its acting High Commissioner Martin Cobham and Deputy High Commissioner Uche Ajulu-Okeke in protest over attacks on its citizens. Continuing with his off-the-cuff remarks, Zuma said apartheid had left a legacy of psychological sickness in South Africans, which needed healing. “Apartheid was a violent system and it produced violent counter-measures to it. So people still believe that to fight authority you must fight government . . . They get excited, they burn the tyres; they block the roads; they destroy property exercising their rights, but interfering with the rights of many,” he said.