Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tsvangirai attributes xenophobia attacks in SA to Zim circumstances

Tsvangirai attributes xenophobia attacks in SA to Zim circumstances
By Kingsley Kaswende in Johannesburg, South Africa
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai has blamed the circumstances in Zimbabwe as the immediate cause of the extreme xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa that has claimed over 50 lives. As the violence spread from Gauteng Province to other provinces such as Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Cape on Thursday, Tsvangirai said it was disappointing that "a brother should hate a brother."

On Thursday, he visited victims of violence camped at Alexandra Police Station.
"We in the MDC understand the problems you are facing," Tsvangirai said, standing on a table. "We are shocked by the plight of men and women who have left their country to a country in the region not of their own volition but because of circumstances back home. What I want to say to you is that the cause of this plight is none other than our political circumstances back home.

We are Africans, but we are members of the same family. What we should be doing is find a solution so that those who can't find jobs and food back home do not have to come and find they are unwelcome here."
Violence against foreigners flared up in poor townships of Johannesburg 10 days ago but has now spread to most provinces in the country.

An estimated 30,000 people have been displaced from their homes and are being housed in tents at police stations.
A joint operation between the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the early hours of Thursday brought the number of those arrested for perpetrating violence to 400 on Thursday.

The army's assistance was authorised by President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday.
And MDC secretary general Tendai Biti has warned of an explosive situation in Zimbabwe if ZANU-PF steals the runoff votes of the June 27 election.
Delivering a public lecture on events in Zimbabwe at the University of the Witwatersrand on Thursday night, Biti said Zimbabweans had exhausted all legal channels of trying to prevent ZANU-PF from stealing the vote but had failed.

"Zimbabwean people have done what they could but they now need a midwife to deliver their baby. If Mugabe steals the election, it is a very dangerous position for Zimbabwe and the region and not for the MDC," he told hundreds of students and lecturers in the Great Hall of the university. "Zimbabweans have exhausted every avenue such as the court, the international fora to resolve the situation.

We have done everything peaceful and constitutional. History has answers of how dictators have been dealt with and removed from power. There is a point at which people will choose to be no longer democratic and tell us who have been democratic that ‘we are now irrelevant'. If Mugabe steals the election, Zimbabwe will be led into a matrix that will not be controlled."
Biti described as tragic a scenario where there were no talks between ZANU-PF and MDC attempting to prevent any explosive situation.

"Currently, there are no talks between ZANU-PF and MDC, which I consider tragic. We are heading for a runoff and if things don't go right the situation may explode," he said.
Biti also said Zimbabweans who lived in the diaspora held the key vote for MDC and that they should return home to vote on June 27.

"We are very close but we could be very far away. If Zimbabweans who are outside can go and vote, we can ensure victory. We've shown that we can defeat the dictator even in extremely difficult conditions," he said.

Biti said President Robert Mugabe knew very well that he lost the last election but had pushed for a runoff as a last attempt to retain power.
Biti said he, with Tsvangirai, would return home today.
"We have been out of Zimbabwe doing very important work. It was necessary work and we are now returning home," Biti said.

There has been growing criticism levelled at the MDC leadership for staying out of Zimbabwe, as their supporters bear the brunt of post-election violence.

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