Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa blames the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa on “long colonialism” describing it as, “… a racialised war of black African underdogs”.
He wrote in his pre-Africa Day opinion column published in the state-controlled Sunday Mail an article titled: “The dangers of false and fake nationalism in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa.”
“In South Africa, a whole violent and often lethal movement against Africans has now taken root,” he said.
He wrote in apparent response to Operation Dudula – a pressure group that has renewed anti-immigrant campaigns.
Through the operation, one Zimbabwean Elvis Nyathi, 43, was stoned and burnt to death on 6 April in Diepsloot, Johannesburg.
“We have witnessed wanton acts of black-on-black, African-on-African violence, all in the name of protecting South African jobs or even vending sites,” the Zimbabwean president said.
He also argued that while South Africa’s economy, “… remains in white and foreign hands”, no white immigrants have been affected.
To address Zimbabwe’s immigration and economic woes, South Africa has in the past engaged Zimbabwe’s ruling party Zanu PF. However, all engagements have been futile ending in diplomatic spats. In one of those, Zanu PF told the African National Congress (ANC) to, “… mind its own business”, back home.
This was after the latter sent a special envoy led by then secretary-general Ace Magashule to Zimbabwe in September 2020.
Mnangagwa added that the attack on foreigners was disguised as nationalism and serves to derail African unity.
This is a racialised war of black African underdogs couched as nationalism, a fight for servitude by equally disempowered Africans, whatever their country of origin. This attack is at the very heart and soul of our solidarity as Africans uniformly objectified by long colonialism.
Mnangagwa came into power through a military coup that was supported by China in November 2017. Since then he has sought to increase relations with the Asian country beyond his predecessor Robert Mugabe’s diplomacy.
In his opinion piece, Mnangagwa also said that anti-Chinese sentiments in Zambia, South Africa, and Namibia, “… revealed a sinister, deceitful and manipulative hand of the West”.
He singled out Namibia’s move to shut down small Chinese retail shops to protect consumers against counterfeit products as “fake nationalism”.
Zimbabwe Community in SA chairperson Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena said Mnangagwa was right on one thing, fake nationalism, but the reason behind black people fighting among each other was because of corruption by the ruling elite.
“The reason why blacks are fighting against each other is because of the plundering of our economies by the political elites,” he said.
This has pushed the poor in African countries to seek greener pastures in other countries and when, “… these migrants who are victims of the political elites when they arrive in countries like South Africa, they compete with poor people in poor communities for little [sic] resources which leads to these attacks”.
As such, the blame for the failure to build these economies must be placed squarely on the governing countries because they didn’t transform the economy at independence, Mabhena said.