United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Zimbabwe, Edward Kallon, has implored the government to create an enabling environment to allow millions of Zimbabweans domiciled in foreign lands to return home to rebuild the country.
Tensions have been rising especially in neighbouring countries, particularly in South Africa, where some Zimbabweans have been subjected to xenophobic attacks by locals who are accusing them of taking their jobs.
Earlier this month, Elvis Nyathi was brutally murdered by a mob in Diepsloot.
Speaking at a media briefing in Bulawayo on Tuesday, Kallon said xenophobia undermined the ‘very tenets of African solidarity’.
“I don’t think any Zimbabwean wants to go to another country and I would end by also encouraging the government to make sure they have an enabling environment facilitated for Zimbabweans to come back and rebuild this beautiful country,” urged the UN resident coordinator.
“You have the human resources, brilliant Zimbabweans who have common interests and natural endowment. You need foreign direct investment but it is not going to come in volumes required to push this country forward, if sanctions are in place.
“That’s why we are saying review sanctions. We call on the government to address human rights abuses, ensure free, fair and credible elections, open up civic space and encourage civic participation. I’m sure Zimbabwe will be the Zimbabwe it used to be, a country so strategic with endowment that it can make its people live a very, very comfortable life.”
In response, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana said it was sad that Africans were discriminated against by other Africans.
“It’s really sad (that) we at this stage of African solidarity, unity, multilateral approach and borderlessness, I would say the affairs and situation where Africans are discriminated against by Africans. It’s tragic that these xenophobia sentiments are being whipped and in some cases by politicians,” he said on the backdrop of the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, celebrated annually on April 24.
South African leaders such as Home Affairs Minister – Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Police – Bheki Cele and Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise have openly blamed foreigners for high levels of crime in that country.
Mangwana said as the Zimbabwean government, their position was against Afrophobia.
“Obviously, we do not believe that any form of bigotry and hate should be preached in an African state,” said the government’s spokesperson.
He also said the government would support Zimbabwean nationals who are in a crisis and facilitate their return home, should they desire that.
“Should there be any of our nationals who want any other type of support they should approach our embassy in South Africa and they will arrange to give the support that is needed,” Mangwana stated.
“We work with the International Organisation of Migration in terms of rehabilitating people that come back into the country, (doing so, together), the government and other agencies which helped us during the peak of the pandemic. So again, in terms of their needs, or depending on their needs, we can’t say they will come and get job priorities but should they face any hardships, the government will support as much as it can through the social services part.”