Zuma, Khama Grill Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe yesterday came short of blaming Zimbabweans for the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, describing them as thieves.

His taunts came just after Sadc deputy chairperson and Botswana President Seretse Ian Khama had left before the summit ended after he reportedly ganged up with South African President Jacob Zuma and told Mugabe point-blank that most Zimbabweans were fleeing to Botswana and South Africa over his misrule.

Mugabe told journalists in Harare on the sidelines of the Sadc Extraordinary Summit that Zuma should not shoulder blame alone for the attacks that left seven people dead.

Despite vicious attacks targeted at Zuma by several people across the region for the xenophobic attacks in his country, Mugabe blamed locals for the chaos.

Though unconfirmed reports were that Zuma was grilled by fellow Sadc leaders in closed-door meetings, Mugabe said it was shocking that thousands of Zimbabweans were flocking to South Africa.

He said many Zimbabweans, mainly men, affected by xenophobia were vowing that they would go back to South Africa despite the brutal attacks.

They are sorry for South Africa, the people who are described as an influx in South Africa are not pushed by their governments, (and) they are people who voluntarily go to South Africa, the 91-year-old Mugabe said.