Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A letter 2 Zuma from Mia Couto

Open Letter from the Chairperson of the “Fernando Leite Couto Foundation”, Mia Couto To: His Excellency President Jacob Zuma We remember you in Maputo, in the 1980s, from that time you spent as a political refugee in Mozambique. Often our paths crossed on Julius Nyerere Avenue and we would greet each other with the casual friendliness of neighbours. Often I imagined the fears that you must have felt, as a person persecuted by the apartheid regime. I imagined the nightmares you must have experienced at night when you thought of the ambushes plotted against you and against your comrades in the struggle. But I don’t remember ever seeing you with a bodyguard. In fact it was we Mozambicans who acted as your bodyguards. For years we gave you more than a refuge. We offered you a house and we gave you security at the cost of our security. You cannot possibly have forgotten this generosity. We haven’t forgotten it. Perhaps more than any other neighbouring country, Mozambique paid a high price for the support we gave to the liberation of South Africa. The fragile Mozambican economy was wrecked. Our territory was invaded and bombed. Mozambicans died in defence of their brothers on the other side of the border. For us, Mr President, there was no border, there was no nationality. We were all brothers in the same cause, and when apartheid fell, our festivities were the same, on either side of the border. For centuries Mozambican migrants, miners and peasants, worked in neighbouring South Africa under conditions that were not far short of slavery. These workers helped build the South African economy. There is no wealth in your country that does not carry the contribution of those who today are coming under attack. For all these reasons, it is not possible to imagine what is going on in your country. It is not possible to imagine that these same South African brothers have chosen us as a target for hatred and persecution. It is not possible that Mozambicans are persecuted in the streets of South Africa with the same cruelty that the apartheid police persecuted freedom fighters, inside and outside the country. The nightmare we are living is more serious than that visited upon you when you were politically persecuted. For you were the victim of a choice, of an ideal that you had embraced. But those who are persecuted in your country today are guilty merely of having a different nationality. Their only crime is that they are Mozambicans. Their only offence is that they are not South Africans. Mr President, the xenophobia expressed today in South Africa is not merely a barbaric and cowardly attack against “the others”. It is also aggression against South Africa itself. It is an attack against the “Rainbow Nation” which South Africans proudly proclaimed a decade or more ago. Some South Africans are staining the name of their motherland. They are attacking the feelings of gratitude and solidarity between nations and peoples. It is sad that your country today is in the news across the world for such inhuman reasons. Certainly measures are being taken. But they are proving inadequate, and above all they have come late. The rulers of South Africa can argue everything except that they were taken by surprise. History was allowed to repeat itself. Voices were heard spreading hatred with impunity. That is why we are joining our indignation to that of our fellow Mozambicans and urging you: put an immediate end to this situation, which is a fire that can spread across the entire region, with feelings of revenge being created beyond South Africa’s borders. Tough, immediate and total measures are needed which may include the mobilization of the armed forces. For, at the end of the day, it is South Africa itself which is under attack. Mr President, you know, better than we do, that police actions can contain this crime but, in the current context, other preventive measures must be taken. So that these criminal events are never again repeated. For this, it is necessary to take measures on another scale, measures that work over the long term. Measures of civic education, and of exalting the recent past in which we were so close, are urgently needed. It is necessary to recreate the feelings of solidarity between our peoples and to rescue the memory of a time of shared struggles. As artists, as makers of culture and of social values, we are available so that, together with South African artists, we can face this new challenge, in unity with the countless expressions of revulsion born within South African society. We can still transform this pain and this shame into something which expresses the nobility and dignity of our peoples and our nations. As artists and writers, we want to declare our willingness to support a spirit of neighbourliness which is born, not from geography, but from a kinship of our common soul and shared history. Maputo, 17 April 2015 Mia Couto

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Zim immigrants ready 2 go home

More 500 Zimbabweans displaced by the xenophobic attacks will leave Durban in South Africa today following successful documentation by embassy officials yesterday, while more are expected to trickle into the country throughout the week, Ngiyesabanews reveal.
In a telephone interview, Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa Mr Isaac Moyo, who was at a camp in Chatsworth, Durban, said all documentation was complete for about 500 to 700 Zimbabweans who will leave in seven buses.

“We have finished processing all documentation for our people in this particular camp and what is left is for the immigration processes from the South African side, otherwise these people should have left today but basically they are leaving tomorrow,” he said. Ambassador Moyo said there were over 1 000 Zimbabweans that were at the Durban camp and more were still coming in for documentation.

“Numbers are huge, I can confirm. There is quite a sizable number of Zimbabweans here in Durban and we have not closed our doors, we are accepting those that are still coming in but generally they are many,” he said.

“We have seven buses that will take the first lot straight to Zimbabwe and we trust all will be well with this first lot.”
The ambassador also said he was with South African President Jacob Zuma at the Chatsworth camp where he addressed foreigners and said Zimbabweans told him they wanted to leave.

Ambassador Moyo said among the group coming back to Zimbabwe were 110 children that are returning with their parents and one woman was said to have given birth at the camp.

“I can confirm that one woman delivered a healthy baby at the camp today (yesterday) and she was later taken to the hospital for further care.

He also said he was only going to leave Durban when all Zimbabweans had been safely repatriated and he said it would take about a week.

“I will return to Pretoria when all Zimbabweans that want to go have been sent home and this may take a week or so but as for now, I will be here with the people to ensure all is well then I can leave,” he promised.

President Zuma cancelled his State visit to Indonesia to meet the displaced immigrants where he promised to ensure that they would have their issues dealt with peacefully.

He said foreigners that wanted to remain in South Africa were free to do so, adding that the xenophobic attacks should not soil relations with them. He also said those that wanted to return to South Africa at a later date were free to return, much to the disgruntlement of the foreigners who said they wanted to return home and wanted nothing to do with South Africa.

Meanwhile, more than 30 people were said to have been arrested yesterday in Thokoza informal settlement in the East Rand and Cleveland, east of Johannesburg, for public violence, malicious damage to property, house breaking and theft after a fresh outbreak.

Violence against immigrants in South Africa has killed at least six people since last week in one of the worst outbreaks of violence against foreigners in years.

Thousands sought refuge in temporary shelters after mobs with machetes attacked immigrants in Durban, where the attacks began. South African police fired rubber bullets on Friday to disperse crowds setting immigrant businesses ablaze as attacks against foreigners spread to Johannesburg.

Violence flared after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini said in remarks widely reported by South African media in March that foreigners should leave the country.

He has since said his comments were misinterpreted and on Saturday attempted to defuse tensions.