By Nobleman Runyanga
Africa and the whole world are perturbed by the gory sights of acts of Afrophobia which are perpetrated against African foreign nationals in South Africa by some citizens of that country. And rightly so too given the fact that such treatment of fellow Africans should have no place in this modern era.
Most of the targets of the attacks are people who legally entered South Africa and are formally employed in various sectors of the South African economy. Some of them, such as artisans and professionals from Zimbabwe, drive very key areas of various businesses in that country.
It is, therefore, very sad that South Africans think that they should just get employed whether or not they possess the requisite expertise, experience and qualifications. If anything, the disgruntled South Africans should borrow a leaf from Zimbabweans who have earned the trust and respect of South African employers due to the combination of their hard work and high levels of education.
Many people condemned the attacks on innocent foreigners whose only crime was being in South Africa where some of their hosts out of petty jealousy think that they are crowding them out of the available jobs and business opportunities. Zimbabwe’s citizen and MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa also joined the fray in condemning the Afrophobic attacks.
Writing in an opinion piece entitled “Violence is not the answer” which was published by IOL News on 4 September 2019, Chamisa went to town over the issue. He mounted a high moral pedestal from which he lectured the South African attackers and anyone who cared to read on the negatives consequences of Afrophobia. He quoted acres of statements from the late American activist, Martin Luther King and the first Ghanaian President, the late Kwame Nkrumah on the ills of resorting to violence to resolve conflicts perceived or real.
While it is Chamisa’s right to condemn the unwarranted attacks, it should be noted that he does so with very dirty hands. Using the opinion piece Chamisa sought to play the paragon of peace and reason in the Afrophobic attacks issue. He sought to be that global citizen who contributes his opinion and advice to the world’s quest for a peaceful and progressive world. The opposition leader sought to present himself as a beacon in a world which is drowned in the din of mindless violence and general negativity.
Chamisa, like the upright citizen which he intended the world to regard him as, bemoaned the negative effects of the attacks on industry and commerce not only in South Africa but the region and the continent as well.
Chamisa, the pretender world peace maker, counselled against the vice of siblings fighting each other.
“(W)hat we have seen from time to time are scenes of violence, looting and occasionally killings, brother upon brother, sister upon sister. This is not right; it’s wrong and tragic. The sooner we stop fighting each other the better,” wrote Chamisa.
For the sake of those who do not know Chamisa’s background: he is the leader of one of the most violent opposition political parties Zimbabwe has ever had. This is the party that set its vicious youths named the Vanguard on its former deputy treasurer general, Elton Mangoma in February 2014 when he questioned that party’s founding leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s political and leadership pedigree following his loss to the ZANU PF’s candidate, the late Robert Mugabe during the 2013 elections.
One could forgive Chamisa for his party’s violence prior to his tenure at the helm of the party but who would forget how he set the Vanguard on the MDC-T leader, Dr Thokozani Khupe, who presented a real threat to his designs to seize the leadership of the party following Tsvangirai’s death in mid February 2018? During Tsvangirai’s funeral Khupe and former secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora had to be rescued by the police from a thatched rondavel at the Tsvangirai rural homestead in Buhera when Vanguard yobs moved to torch the building and kill the two politicians. This is because they perceived them to be threats to Chamisa’s succession plans.
As the battle for the leadership of the party intensified Chamisa dispatched his rag tag militia, the Vanguard to Bulawayo to attack Khupe, who was the only elected vice president to Tsvangirai, to chuck her out of MDC offices in Bulawayo in March of the same year. Khupe’s aide, Witness Dube was assaulted and the politician’s Land rover Discovery motor vehicle was stoned. So much for Chamisa, the pastor and aspiring global peacemaker.
Given this chequered background, it makes it very difficult for anyone to believe Chamisa’s high sounding lecture to the South Africans. The South African Afrophobes would appear as saints compared to Chamisa, the Zimbophobe who has no qualms in burning his own fellow countrymen in a hut, all for a party leadership position.
“Already we have seen businesses destroyed and commerce disrupted as truckers that use South African routes fear for their lives. Threats of retaliation against South African drivers and businesses in other parts of the continent demonstrate that this is a vicious cycle in which there is no winner,” Chamisa gushed in the opinion piece.
In August 2016 MDC and National Electoral Reform Programme (NERA) youths demonstrated in central Harare where they wreaked havoc. They damaged and looted shops. Neither Tsvangirai, Chamisa nor any other senior MDC member condemned this orgy of unprovoked and mindless violence against innocent business owners.
This is the same party that went around Harare on 1 August 2018 protesting against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) during last year’s election destroying and looting shops and torching innocent citizens’ motor vehicles. Before Chamisa went global tongue-lashing the South African Afrophobes, he should have self-introspected. He should have checked his own and his party’ chequered records when it comes to violence and destruction against not foreigners but their own countrymen.
Who would forget the 14 to 16 January violent and destructive protests ostensibly against a fuel price increased announced on 12 January? Police motor vehicles and highway toll plazas were looted and torched. Businesses such as the continental retail chain, Choppies lost over Z$10 million in both looted and destroyed stock. Many more businesses lost more millions needlessly from an unnecessary protest organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) on behalf of the MDC.
It is all dandy to condemn Afrophobia in South Africa. Chamisa should first disabuse himself and his members of Zimbophobia which they perpetrate on innocent Zimbabweans in the name of fixing ZANU PF before he can self-righteously lecture the world and South Africans on the ongoing Afrophobic attacks and violence in general. The title of his piece, “Violence is not the answer” should be directed at his own party before aiming it at the world.