Govt should urge economic action to stop xenophobia – Zim church group
Report by News24.com
Harare – Zimbabwe’s government should take urgent political and economic measures to avoid an influx of its citizens to South Africa, where they face humiliation, the president of Zimbabwe church umbrella body Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) said on Wednesday.
Speaking during an anti-xenophobic violence prayer meeting held in Harare on Wednesday morning, Dr Shingi Munyeza said xenophobic violence against Zimbabweans can be avoided if the country’s citizens stopped flocking to South Africa in search of better life.
EFZ comprises over 500 Zimbabwe churches and parachurch organisations.
“We implore the government of Zimbabwe to take urgent political and economic steps to reduce the need for our people to become economic refugees in neighbouring countries where they are exposed to all kinds of humiliation and xenophobic attacks,” said Munyeza.
At least seven people have been killed in South Africans and 7 000 left homeless since the attacks started around three weeks ago against foreign nationals, especially Africans. Over 300 people have also been arrested and on Tuesday the South African government deployed the army to xenophobic hotspots in Johannesburg and Durban.
Over one million Zimbabweans are believed to be living in South Africa as economic or political refugees.
Zimbabwe’s economy is currently on its knees and according to the country’s central bank, over 4 000 workers lost their jobs in 2014, and the Zimbabwe finance ministry said 4 600 companies closed down between 2011 and October 2014, resulting in 64 000 job losses.
Local economists have also warned that, unless something drastic happens, 2015 will be another year of economic decline in Zimbabwe, associated with the collapse of social institutions and a further reduction in the delivery of essential services to the population.
Munyeza applauded the South African government for the public denunciation of xenophobic attacks, but urged them to use more effective and sustainable ways of enforcing and sustaining the stoppage of xenophobia with immediate effect.
“We wish to remind the perpetrators of xenophobic violence in South Africa of a time in history when many South Africans took habitation in Zimbabwe without having to face this same fate,” said Munyeza.
South Africa, with a population of over 50 million people, is home to an estimated five million immigrants.
The prayer meeting, which was being facilitated by the Zimbabwe heads of Christian denominations and civil society organisations, was attended by over 200 church leaders.
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