President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday urged the South African government to deal with on-going xenophobic attacks being perpetrated against African foreigners by its citizens.
Speaking at a dinner event hosted in his honor by the Zimbabwe Diaspora Business Forum here, President Mnangagwa said the South African government should use a bit of force to quell the xenophobic attacks.
“I have no doubt that the authorities here will not fold hands. They must bring sanity and to do so, they must apply a bit of force,” he said.
President Mnangagwa’s remarks come as he joined other African leaders here to attend the 28th session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa which opens here on Wednesday.
South Africa has been hit by an outbreak of xenophobic violence in its biggest city, Johannesburg attracting criticism from other African nations in the week political and business leaders from at least 28 countries gather in Cape Town for WEF.
The spate of violence that broke out in suburbs south of Johannesburg’s city centre on Sunday and spread to the central business district on Monday saw the destruction of mainly foreign-owned shops and business premises, cars and properties.
Speaking at the same event, Zimbabwe Diaspora Business Forum chair Terry Mhungu condemned the xenophobic attacks.
“The continued xenophobia is a cause for concern for us here. We call on South Africa to exercise maximum force to protect foreigners living here. Xenophobia diminishes our ability as Sadc (Southern African Development Community) to fight poverty,” he said.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier on Tuesday vowed to clamp down on what he described as “acts of wanton violence”.
“I condemn the violence that has been spreading around a number of our provinces in the strongest terms. I’m convening the ministers in the security cluster today to make sure that we keep a close eye on these acts of wanton violence and find ways of stopping them. The people of our country want to live in harmony; whatever concerns or grievances we may have, we need to handle them in a democratic way. There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries,” he said.
The South African police said at least five people, mostly locals were killed in the xenophobic attacks while 91 were arrested in connection with the violence.
South Africa is a major destination for economic migrants from other parts of the continent, including the Southern Africa region, with many moving from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in search of work.