More than 300 Zimbabweans staged peaceful protest Friday in Harare outside the South African High Commission offices and handed over a petition to the country’s ambassador, calling an end to the current xenophobic attacks in that country, which have left at least one Zimbabwean dead and almost 800 displaced.
In the petition, the protestors that were drawn from 31 civil society organizations urged South Africa to protect Zimbabweans and other foreigners, who are being attacked by local people claiming that they have grabbed their jobs and lucrative businesses.
They sang revolutionary songs denouncing President Jacob Zuma’s government, while at the same time urging President Robert Mugabe to sort out Zimbabwe’s crippling socio-economic and political challenges in order to ensure that locals can find better jobs in the country instead of migrating to South Africa.
The petition was received by Deputy Commissioner Phumla Andy Makhabe in the presence of the Mayor of Harare, Benard Manyenyeni.
Police, who had earlier-on denied the protestors permission to engage in the street marches, monitored the situation to ensure that no one was harmed.
Pride Mukono, who was one of the protestors, condemned the xenophobic attacks and urged the Zimbabwean government to address the country’s economic meltdown as a way of curbing the mass migration of locals to South Africa.
Another Zimbabwean, who also took part in the street protest, was Maureen Kademaunga. She expressed unhappiness over the xenophobic attacks and the situation back home.
In the petition, the protestors said the South African government has a legal obligation to protect all immigrants under its own laws and international statues.
They also urged that country to investigate the xenophobic attacks and arrest those responsible for the violence.
The march was almost disrupted by Zanu PF youths, who were angered by some t-shirts worn by protestors calling on the Zimbabwe government to find protest leader Itai Dzamara of Occupy Africa Unity Square, who was allegedly abducted by state security agents more than a month ago.
Reports say there are still some xenophobic attacks going on in South Africa today despite an appeal by President Jacob Zuma for an end of the violence.
In a statement released Friday, the United States Embassy condemned the violence against foreigners taking place in KwaZulu Natal and other parts of South Africa.
The embassy said the U-S remains concerned at the loss of innocent lives, destruction of property, and impact on families and communities.
It urged individuals involved to refrain from all forms of violence and exercise restraint, and rely on peaceful dialogue to resolve any differences.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, who is currently in Washington for the 2015 spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, told Studio 7 while the government of South Africa has condemned the violence, there is need to address the underlying cause of such attacks which he attributes to poverty and inequality.