Analysts hit back at Zuma comments

via Analysts hit back at Zuma comments | The Herald April 28, 2015

South African President Jacob Zuma yesterday received a backlash when he appeared to blame a wave of xenophobic attacks that recently rocked his country on neighbouring countries which he said were failing to provide for their citizens.

Analysts blasted President Zuma, saying his statement was an insult considering that fellow African countries played a crucial role in the emancipation of South Africa and the development of its industry.

In his Freedom Day address to mark South Africa’s 21st independence anniversary, President Zuma took a swipe at countries that have criticised his government for the violence targeted at migrants.

Digressing from his prepared speech, President Zuma fired a salvo at critics asking: “As much as we have a problem that is alleged to be xenophobic, our sister countries contribute to this. Why are their citizens not in their countries and in South Africa?”

He appeared to be particularly piqued by Nigeria’s decision to recall South Africa’s Acting High Commissioner Mr Martin Cobham and Deputy High Commissioner Mr Uche Ajulu-Okeke in protest over attacks on its citizens.

Continuing with his off-the-cuff remarks, President Zuma said apartheid had left a legacy of psychological sickness in South Africans, which needed healing.

“Apartheid was a violent system and it produced violent counter-measures to it,” he said. “So people still believe that to fight authority you must fight government. They get excited, they burn the tyres; they block the roads; they destroy property exercising their rights, but interfering with the rights of many.”

He said the African Union’s push to promote peace, stability and democracy in every corner of the continent will in the long run reduce the need for people to migrate “towards the South”.

“The promotion of intra-Africa trade, regional integration, infrastructure and other economic interventions is also designed to improve the economic situation in sister countries,” said President Zuma.

“The end result will be that brothers and sisters will eventually no longer need to leave their countries in search of a better life.”

Legal and political analyst Cde Jonathan Samukange said the statement by President Zuma was an insult.

“When South Africans were fighting for independence, the Zimbabwean Government assisted in training its professionals with some lawyers being employed by our Ministry of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs,” he said.

“I personally worked with some South Africans in the Attorney-General’s Office after our independence, but Zimbabweans never attacked them for taking their jobs.

“How can they now turn around and say that to us? I believe if the South Africans we worked with in the AG’s Office are still alive, they must be ashamed considering the nice treatment we gave them here.”

A senior lecturer at Midlands State University, Dr Nhamo Mhiripiri, said President Zuma had exhibited naivete by his “unfortunate” statement.

“Due to some colonial and apartheid advantages South Africa has grown into a bigger economy that takes advantage of smaller and developing economies,” he said.

“If we go back to the days when our people would work in the South African mines during the popular Wenela era, we will find that the neighbours actually assisted in building the economy of South Africa. Even now, our professionals are at the centre of South Africa’s economy.”

Renowned social commentator Mr Cont Mhlanga said South Africa would soon degenerate into chaos “because its young people have been taught to kill people who are richer than them”.

“Zuma and company are preparing their young ones to kill their own people,” he said. “The problem in South Africa is deeper than xenophobia, as the country shall soon find out.”

Mr Mhlanga said the real issue in South Africa was skewed wealth distribution that left a few citizens extremely rich, while the majority wallowed in poverty.

He said the economic model that the country inherited from the apartheid era would be its undoing.

“Zuma should not pretend to be dull,” said Mr Mhlanga. “South Africa will get a rude awakening if they do not solve their problem urgently. No country, even America, can survive without migrant labour. Zuma’s comments are even more unfortunate, considering that he was once a refugee here in Zimbabwe, staying in Umguza.”

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo weighed in on Twitter: “President Zuma’s Freedom Day speech has controversial remarks given recent xenophobic attacks in SA.

“Zuma says AU peace and democracy efforts in Africa ‘will in the long run reduce the need for people to migrate towards the South’. Really?”

Dr Lawton Hikwa, an analyst with the National University of Science and Technology, was more sympathetic to Zuma, insisting his candid comments would force African countries to introspect.

“I don’t think it was his aim to denigrate other countries,” he said. “It’s a wake-up call to fix our economies so that our people don’t find South Africa that attractive.”

Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia repatriated hundreds of their citizens caught up in the violence, but victims also included immigrants from further afield, including Nigerians.

Official government figures show seven people have been killed in the attacks, but witness’ accounts seem to suggest there could be more.


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    tapiwa 7 years ago

    there is nothing Controversial about Zuma’s remarks. When Zimbabwe gave refuge to South Africans it was not to half of the country was it. AU and Africa as a whole should fully do a root cause analysis to understand why half a country leave their country to live in squalor. This whole idea of entitlement by foreigners like Zimbabweans in South Africa that they housed South African refugees during apartheid and that they superior to South Africans is the problem.

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    Dzepfunde 7 years ago

    “When South Africans were fighting for independence, the Zimbabwean Government assisted in training its professionals with some lawyers being employed by our Ministry of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs,”

    Zimbabwe is not fighting for independence but its on a “self-destruct” button. Other countries like Zambia, Malawi used to provide labor to Rhodesia and even in independent Zimbabwe. If we put our house in order and not fight our own citizens to stay in power we would be at a much better position 35 years after independence

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    Nyoni 7 years ago

    Zuma is right to say other sister countries should get their act together . Our bandit President is one of them. Alas Mr Zuma your words will fall on deaf ears.

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    I think Jacob Zuma is 100% right why coz the government from other countries in Africa their are very lazy they don’t care with their people look at Zim the home affairs are giving the blind people the passport for what the government is suppose to take care for those people but nothing ( lokho kubonisa ukuthi uhulumeni Ka Mugabe uyehluleka

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    muzimbo 7 years ago

    Zuma is right..if you help me during my time of need does it mean u should be a burden to me in turn?No wonder why we are being burdened by liberation war hearoes claiming they brought us freedom so they need to do as they wish they alone..

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    Zuma is playing it both sides,he is causing xenophobia yet condemning it in public-its called politics

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    Rwendo 7 years ago

    When moderately to well educated, generally peaceful, law-abiding and hard working foreigners enter your economy, that is a plus for you because they have been carried through pregnancy, infancy, primary, secondary schooling and even university, all at some other nation’s tax payers’ and private expense. You are given a finished product for free. It becomes a problem only if your economy is in trouble or starts shrinking or can no longer absorb new entrees. There is also usually an ever growing resistance to that proportion of the influx consisting of (usually exploited) unskilled workers who compete with the local, lower paid working classes and the informally employed. And so the response has gradually changed in SA over the last 15 years, from Mbeki to Zuma.

    Given the poor policies of some of the AU countries, SA will have to push for better governance through the AU and SADC. That plus investing (like the USA) in better border patrolling and control against illegal entry at its road, sea and air ports in the shorter term.

    As for the youth in our countries, there is need for more commitment and sacrifice in solving the problems in our own countries and economies, difficult and risky as that may be. Giving up, at home or after fleeing to other countries, is no solution.

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    grabmore 7 years ago

    Very funny that Samukange can compare “some lawyers I worked with after independence” with 3 million Zimbos willing to face xenophobia rather than the concentration camps of Harare.

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    Some of the so called professors are a marvel to watch or should I say listen. Their reasoning is so short you start to wonder how they become to be called professor. Most of these degrees are bought.

    So, here is South Africa interested in the extraction of our platinum and gold for processing at no cost to them, abating a rabid dictator who has rigged election and run down the economy. He builds mansions, not factories. We have missing citizens as we speak. They raised a voice. Now you want Zuma to carry the load of fleeing citizens running away from ZANU PF APARTHEID!?

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    Zuma is no saint, but the truth hurts. Though of course he is guilty of propping up the Zimbabwe dictatorship, and Mbeki before him. If they had not, we might now be a prosperous country.

    Just this morning Mo Ibrahim was saying that bad governance was the cause of poverty and violence in Africa. How stupid do you have to be not to understand this? Maybe as stupid as a “professor”?

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    Expat 7 years ago

    Chicken are coming home to roost, Big brother that the rest of Southern Africa population has looked to for reasonable intervention in various Human right issues has over the years brushed off this intervention, because of this brother in arms Bulls**t and instead of insisting on the right things have allowed their Brothers in Arms to literally get away with murder never mind about vote rigging and all the other issues that have led to the people wanting to find ways out of their countries and try for a better life in South Africa. Should have done the right thing and advised on the issues correctly and those people would not have to look and leaving their country’s as those countries would be prosperous and perhaps led by different leaders with different perspectives than what we have got today.

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      timothy 7 years ago

      what is the problem if these people come back home and we work together so that we may boost our nation in terms of production.the problem with us zimbabweans is too much strong in your nation and work for it and the almighty god will bless you.i am amazed by so many people who refuse to be employed in our farms but in south africa they work in farms.i am not supporting what happened in south but i am saying lets put our ideas together in order to build our nation rather than running away instead of bringing a solution.

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      daniel 7 years ago

      true that,Mbeki and later Zuma both had the chance to positively influence the Zimbabwean situation..I remember when Zuma took over and I like many had high hopes that unlike Mbeki, zuma would not let us down. But to my greater disappointment,he sang from the same hym book as Mbeki. Helping prop up the regime against the wishes of the masses of Zimbabwe. .so as far as our suffering which results in our need to escape to your perceived better environs, I find you have no one to blame but yourselves. from where I stand, I think the Mbeki role leading to the formation of the GNU was more interfering rather than intervention. All he did and ever wanted to do was guarantee the continued Rule of Zanu pf and the continual suffering of the common Zimbabwean.

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    Muneyi 7 years ago

    Dr Lawton Hikwa gave the most logical and objective comment there. That Zim helped SA out of apartheid is no justification for the influx of Zimbos in SA at the current rate. Yes xenophobia is inhuman but the problem with our governments are quick to condemn to condemn violent protests when they come yet they habitually ignore grievances from their people when they are presented peacefully. it’s true that foreigners hardly bargain for tremuneration because they are desperate to find jobs in the first place. it’s unfortunate that SA is one of the few African economies that are still attractive to workers. you can’t compare the volume of immigrants now flocking into SA with what used to happen during wars of liberation. SA is just overwhelmed now. African governments need to deliberate on the SA’s situation with caution and fairness to SA.

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    daniel 7 years ago

    by the look of things we are not going to get to know the true extend of the violence, as it seems there is a deliberate effort to report minimal figures when it comes to the victims of xenophobia. piecing together bits of information from different reports on accounts from returnees and so forth, I think the numbers of affected ( killed ) people are higher than the ao called official figure.

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    Guvnor 7 years ago

    Zuma should not pass the buck. Guard your border and deport illegals like any other civilised country. Abusing your people to kill foreigners of African ethnicity can not be the solution. The law of unintended consequences will come into play and loose SA all the moral standing and reputation it had.

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    If it’s from the Herald it’s not worth reading or commenting on . Boycott the comments is what YOU CAN DO!!!!

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    Petal 7 years ago

    If these xenophobic attacks occurred abroad there would be outrage from African leaders, name calling and calls for an inquiry but here they are covering up for each other

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    Michael Nkomo 7 years ago

    Whatever Zuma said does not matter much. Although my heart bleeds for those who lost their lives and the loved ones left behind, South Africa had saved a lot of lives. How many us foreigners call South Africa home? Our countries treated us badly and some of us had been hunted down to killed for having a different ideology from the ruling parties or tribes. South Africa had opened its arms to us. Despite recent Xenophobic attacks thank you South Africa.