Below follows a statement read at the Media Centre in the wake of the latest spate of xenophobic attacks in South Africa. This statement was read at the Media Centre in Harare today.
We the women of Africa, citizens of Zimbabwe, bemoan and denounce the slaughter of the sons and daughters of Africa in gruesome xenophobic attacks that have so far claimed five lives and maimed many in neighbouring South Africa. These statistics are appalling.
However, statistics do not die, it is our sons, daughters, neighbours; who are being pelted by stones and boulders, and burnt to death in cold blood. What makes it worse is that xenophobic attacks have happened before and impunity for that outrage is what is strengthening the resolve of the current perpetrators.
- We call on the Zimbabwean government, in their position as the SADC & AU Chair, in the spirit of Pan-Africanism, African Renaissance, and Ubuntu, to call for urgent negotiations with the South African government, as we cannot wait any longer as more lives continue to be at risk.
- We immediately demand national governments to engage; through the Foreign Ministries, South African ambassadors to discuss the situation and communicate the official South African position, as well as negotiate amicable solutions to the current situation.
- We call upon responsible authorities to ensure that the underlying causes of xenophobic attacks are addressed immediately. The influx of economic and political refugees into South Africa reflects recurring and unaddressed socio-economic problems from the migrant countries, including Zimbabwe.
- We call upon the Zimbabwean government to urgently address and come up with concrete and sustained economic recovery solutions that will guarantee our people the freedom to choose to escape xenophobia, hatred and slavery, and return home to secure their livelihoods and contribute positively to nation building and overall development of our social fabric and economy.
- We remind our government that in as much as many Zimbabweans have benefited from employment and other opportunities in South Africa, our people too have contributed immensely to South Africa’s economic growth, through labour, partnerships and trade. Today, on almost a quarterly basis, Zimbabwe hosts South African artists, and the revenue generated is ploughed into the South African economy. On a daily basis, Zimbabweans consume Proudly South African products; from tomatoes, yoghurt, rice, to industrial machinery and airline services. Businesses like South African Airways, KFC, Pick n Pay and many others continue to thrive due to our contribution, both inside South Africa and in our own countries.
- We challenge our governments to remind South Africa that our countries depend on each other for economic growth; and that xenophobia is bad for business. As mourning citizens, we are considering boycotting South African businesses and products because the principle of Ubuntu has been undermined by xenophobia. If we are not good enough for their country, then we should not be good enough for their services and products in our countries. We cannot continue to feast and promote the South African economy, the very hand that is killing us.
Legal Instruments against xenophobia
Recalling the precepts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) to which our governments are signatory to; where Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co- operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
- Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
- Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
- Article 13: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
- (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
- Article 14: (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
Considering the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity, which stipulates that ‘freedom, equality, justice and dignity, are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African people.’
Recalling that the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights recognizes on the one hand, that fundamental human rights stem from the attributes of human beings, which justifies their national and international protection…’
- Furthermore, Article 4 states that ‘Human beings are inviolable. Every Human being is entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.
- Article 5. Every individual shall have the right to the respect of dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.
This Statement was prepared by the members of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, a network of women rights activists and women’s organisations.
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe Chairperson
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