President Jacob Zuma hits back at other African states over anti-immigrant violence

April 28, 2015 2:04 pm

South African President visits a camp for those affected by
anti-immigrant violence in Chatsworth north of Durban, April 18, 2015.
’s President Jacob Zuma on Saturday canceled a state visit
to Indonesia to deal with a wave of anti-immigrant violence at home and
promised peace to those who wished to remain in ’s most advanced
economy. The unrest which began in the port city Durban two weeks ago
and spread to Johannesburg, Africa’s economic hub, appeared to have died
down on Saturday as police patrolled trouble spots. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Johannesburg (AFP) – President
Jacob Zuma on Monday hit out at other African countries after South
Africa faced a backlash over the wave of anti-foreigner attacks in the
country.
While Zuma
condemned the violence, saying immigrants contributed to the South
African economy, he also questioned why so many had flocked to South
Africa.
“As much as we can have a problem alleged to be xenophobic, our brother countries contributed to this,” he said.
 Thousands march in Johannesburg against the recent wave of xenophobic
attacks in South Africa on April 23, 2015 (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia)

“Why are the citizens not in their countries?”
Earlier
in April, mobs in Johannesburg and in the port city of Durban targeted
migrants, ransacking their homes and burning shops.
Seven people died and thousands were displaced.

South Africa faced a backlash over the attacks and regional
relations have been strained, with Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique
organising for some of their fearful citizens to return home.
Nigeria
has also recalled its ambassador in Pretoria over the attacks while
there have been widespread calls for South African products to be
boycotted.
But Zuma went on a counter-offensive Monday, saying his government would strengthen measures to tackle illegal immigration.
“Some
of them (immigrants) had very serious allegations against their own
countries to explain why they are in South Africa,” Zuma said, speaking
on Freedom Day that marks the country’s first democratic elections in
1994.
“In fact, some of them warned us that there is almost
certainly another wave of refugees coming given the developments in
their own countries.
“We have to address the underlying causes of
the violence and tensions, which is the legacy of poverty, unemployment
and inequality in our country and our continent and the competition for
limited resources,” Zuma said.
Many South Africans have blamed the
attacks on poverty and a severe jobs shortage in Africa’s second
biggest economy. Undocumented immigrants are often accused of accepting
work for less pay.

The spate
of attacks has revived memories of xenophobic bloodshed in 2008, when 62
people were killed, tarnishing South Africa’s post-apartheid image as a
“rainbow nation” of different groups living in harmony.
The
South African army was deployed in some of the worst hit areas last
week in a bid to crack down on the violence against immigrants.
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