Some churches and civil society organizations on Wednesday held a prayer session in Harare in solidarity with some Zimbabweans affected by the ongoing attacks of foreign nationals in neighboring South Africa.
More than 500 people drawn from the clergy and civil society gathered at the Trinity Methodist Church in the capital to pray for some Zimbabweans whose stay in South Africa remain at risk following the ongoing xenophobic attacks in that country.
Speaking at the occasion, president of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Ishmael Mukwanda, appealed for peace in South Africa saying the church was not pleased with the ongoing attacks on foreign nationals.
A representative of civil society organizations, Douglas Mudereki, who also works with the Zimbabwe Students’ Christian Movement, said thousands of Zimbabwean students learning in South Africa were likely to be affected by the xenophobic attacks.
He added that it was not enough for President Jacob Zuma’s administration to deploy the police and army in the streets of South Africa without dealing with the causes of xenophobia.
Several people were injured while other foreigners have lost their lives in South Africa since the attacks on foreign nationals began a week ago.
The Zimbabwean government has dispatched a fleet of buses to the South Africa-Zimbabwe border post in Beitbridge to ferry its nationals who are fleeing the attacks across the Limpopo.
The president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Shingi Munyeza, said the poor performance of the economy was forcing Zimbabweans to leave the country to seek for greener pastures in South Africa and other nations.
However, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa told VOA Studio 7 by phone that Zimbabwe is doing all it can to improve the country’s economy.
He said its major pillar was its new economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation or Zimasset.
Munyeza also urged Mr. Mugabe, who chairs both the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, to use his influence in the two blocs to promote peace and economic development in Africa.
Although the Economic Freedom Fighters party leader, Julius Malema, called for Mr. Mugabe to urgently deal with the xenophobic attacks and other issues affecting the African continent, Mr. Mugabe is in Indonesia where he is attending the Non-Aligned Movement and the Asia-Africa Summits.
His South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, has not travelled to Indonesia saying he wanted to deal with the xenophobic crisis back home. Malema has accused Mr. Zuma of having a hidden hand in the ongoing attacks on foreign nationals.
Mr. Zuma has not commented since Malema made the allegations in the South African parliament this week while Mr. Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj could not be reached for comment.
Movement for Democratic Change founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, has vowed to keep up political pressure on the government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to institute electoral reforms.
The MDC-T and other opposition political parties are boycotting elections to push for reforms. But the non-participation is said to be causing serious friction in the MDC amid reports that Tsvangirai is clashing with his deputy, Thokozane Khupe.
Presently, parliament has 27 vacant seats, but eight of them will be filled through proportional representation.