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Emotional send off for Elvis Nyathi

Mourners at the funeral service of the late Elvis Nyathi who was brutally killed by an anti-immigrant mob in South Africa called on the African National Congress (ANC) led government to provide answers on the gruesome murder.

Nyathi (43) was laid to rest at Umvutcha cemetery in Bulawayo on Saturday.

Speaking at the funeral service held at the Brethren In Christ Church in New Lobengula, mourners also called on the Zimbabwean government to fix the economy to stem the flow of citizens seeking greener pastures in other countries.

The atmosphere was sombre as speaker after speaker detailed the brutal nature of Nyathi’s death and the challenges faced by Zimbabweans in South Africa.

The hearse carrying Elvis Nyathi’s charred remains

Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Judith Ncube, said it was painful to lose Nyathi in such a horrific manner especially when the migration trend to South Africa and other countries started well before independence.

“This was seen by workers who flocked the country to work under the Witswatersrand Native Labour Association (WENELA). Migration has always been in existence with people wanting to look for greener pastures,” she said.

The provincial minister said Africa has to be wary of outsiders who sought to destroy unity between member states.

“If you notice a home that has many people and love, it’s one neighbour or the other who tries to put cracks there. If you are not careful of such devices, the home will be broken apart,” she said, adding that challenging times of conflict required wise leadership.

“I remember in the early 1980s when there was conflict in Matabeleland, if there was no leader like Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo who preached unity, the country was going to break because the aim was to have a civil war but that did not happen because of leaders like Nkomo who had the wisdom to unite people.”

Political leaders from various political parties stand next to Nyathi’s coffin

Nkulumane MP, Kucaca Phulu said it was saddening that some African leaders chose to turn a blind eye on the challenges afflicting the continent.

“There is no where it was said countries are fighting for their individual self and that’s the history we were taught. It’s shocking today to know that we have leaders who are not clear when confronted about such issues,” he said.

Phulu added he was going to issue a statement of public importance in Parliament soon regarding the conduct of the South Africa’s ruling party – the ANC, which has not outrightly condemned xenophobic attacks after Nyathi’s death.

“ANC is not clear, which is shocking us,” he said but indicated that Zimbabwe must also look into solving its own problems.

“The Zimbabwean passport now summarises the indignity we face when we go to other countries. We must take steps to take our children out of embarrassment when other people look at us. We need to work on that, meet as political parties and ask ‘what we are doing about our dignity.’ Even if we have political ideological differences we must certainly agree that we need progress for us to move forward.”

Phulu also praised South African opposition leader, Julius Malema, of the Economic Freedom Fighters for emphasising the unity of Africans.

“He will be able to help Africans but Cryil Ramaphosa, we are watching you, you don’t belong to the ANC we know. If South Africa is not careful, tomorrow it will be destroyed by the same people who burnt Nyathi,” he said.

“We need to respect our roots and to all of us here, let’s respect each other.”

Pastor Lucky Moyo from Christian Alliance consoles Nyathi’s wife, Nomsa Tshuma

Bulawayo Deputy Mayor, Mlandu Ncube, called on policy makers to improve diplomatic channels when such ‘tragic’ incidents occurred.

“If it was an American who was killed in South Africa, there would be a different picture right now,” he said.

“But at the same time, we must fix our country. We must not wholly rely on South Africa. Let’s fix our country, especially for Matabeleland, who are still crying from wounds caused in the 1980s (Gukurahundi genocide) and marginalisation, which saw people fleeing the country to endure suffering on other countries. Let’s kill poverty that causes young people to cross the border.”

Ncube said that it was painful that Zimbabweans were being singled adding that justice should prevail.

“Imagine what would happen if one day all African presidents said South Africans must go back to their country, will South Africa survive?,” he questioned.

Pastor Lucky Moyo from Christian Alliance urged people to solve challenges and not blame each other.

“Elvis is a symbol of thousands who have gone to work in neighbouring countries hoping to be able to provide for their families but that dream has turned into a nightmare…If we say our children must come back, what home are they coming to? We are not here to apportion blame, nor make uncomfortable nor provocative statements but to address these issues,” he said.

“This is my prayer today, in two days, Zimbabwe is celebrating Independence Day, we say no more sloganeering…we are neither qualified to insult our neighbour South Africa. It is time we take our own country into our own and solve our own problems.”

Nyathi is survived by his wife and four children.

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