Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
THE recent xenophobic attacks in neighbouring South Africa are a serious dent to Africa’s regional economic integration efforts, the Zimbabwe-South Africa (Zim-SA) Forum has said.
At a time when the region is pushing towards operationalising the historic African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Zim-SA Forum has expressed shock over the recurrent nature of “disheartening attacks” on foreign nationals in South Africa.
This, it said, is against the goal of the AfCFTA to establish a single market for goods and services across 54 countries, allow the free movement of business travellers and investments, and create a continental customs union to streamline trade and attract long-term investment.
“The frequent and ongoing xenophobic attacks on African immigrants in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town and other South African cities, are very sad and unbecoming, to say the least.
“They strip the country of its rainbow nation status and go against our ethos of Ubuntu and our African brotherhood,” said the pro-business organisation, joining a stream of voices that have roundly condemned the violent attacks. Xenophobia is generally defined as the hatred and prejudice against outsiders or foreigners and the fear or contempt of that which is foreign or unknown, especially of strangers or foreign people. The recurrent incidents have claimed several lives and left a trail of destruction on foreign owned businesses, SA media has reported.
Zim-SA Forum said the attacks, not only threaten the cordial bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa, but also the rest of the continent with grave consequences on the ongoing regional economic integration drive.
“What this symbolises and portends for the present and future of the progress and prosperity of the African continent, especially the black man, is a grave disregard for the African struggle for economic and social emancipation,” it said.
Zim-SA Forum urged regional and continental bodies to bring their heads together and deal with the vice once and for all. It also called on the Sadc, on the recurrent migration issue, which is at the centre of the AfCFTA.
“Our leaders must walk the talk by taking steps that enhance free movement of goods, services and indeed human capital. We, therefore, call for swift and decisive action in quelling the xenophobic crisis we are faced with and progressing together towards the dream birthed by our former leaders,” it said.
“We would like to have it on record that as a pro-business organisation, we do not condone crime or any illegal activities that erode the progress of our societies. We maintain that crime in whatever form should be dealt with decisively, and the perpetrators to book.”
Similarly, Midlands State University student, Kudzai Saya, in a study titled: “Xenophobia and Africa’s Regional Integration” covering period 2000 to 2015, also observes that the xenophobia brings ripple effects at various levels of society and in turn affects the very idea of Africa’s regional integration in bi-lateral and multi-lateral state interaction platforms.
The Zim-SA Forum equally condemned the acts of retaliation that have resulted in loss of property in Nigeria and Zambia, for instance.
“Our continent is in grave need of infrastructure, and it is sad to see our people destroying the very infrastructure needed for the advancement of our collective goals,” it said.
“We call upon the collective efforts of our people from all Africa’s nation states, in quelling the violence witnessed over the past couple of weeks.
“Together we can do more to build our nations. Together we can help each other achieve prosperity and create a better Africa for the generations to come.”
The South African government and its regional peers have also strongly condemned the xenophobic attacks and called upon communities and community leaders to exercise caution and restraint when dealing with sensitive subjects that are likely to destabilise and disrupt normal business activity.