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Ex-ZPRA cadre calls out SA govt on xenophobia

A former liberation fighter in Bulawayo has challenged the African National Congress (ANC) led government to act on the xenophobic sentiments directed at Zimbabweans.

Toadson Mhlanga (58) a former ZPRA cadre said he was pained by the cold-blooded murder of Zimbabwean Elvis Nyathi in South Africa recently.

ZPRA, which was ZAPU’s military wing fought alongside Umkhonto WeSizwe, the ANC’s former armed wing, during the liberation struggle.

Mhlanga noted the unity between the two liberation movements remained strong even after both countries attained independence.

But now, that unity has gone up in smoke, Mhlanga claims.

He indicated that the growing xenophobic and afrophobic sentiments that are emanating from South Africa against other African migrants prove so.

“During the war days in Zambia, we trained alongside Umkhonto WeSizwe in Angola and Tanzania. After training we came with them to the country through the Zambezi establishment, crossing gorges to enter the Rhodesian terrain. At that time, we would go with the Umkhonto WeSizwe fighters to the border of Botswana where they would cross,” Mhlanga said.

“Sometimes we would even meet up with the enemy and fight the Rhodesian forces until we gained our independence in 1980. During that time, we worked with them here and nothing was done to them by us. Now my question is, since we were together and developed a relationship in the trenches, what has happened today?”

Mhlanga who was brandishing a large poster with images of Nyathi’s last moments before he died at the hands of the South African mob, said he was deeply pained by that incident and the seemingly broken relationship between South Africans and Zimbabweans.

“Elvis was burnt and killed but we did not hear the ANC condemning this attack. Dear comrade in arms, we ask what has happened to us?” questioned the former fighter.

Nyathi (43) who hailed from Malaba, in Matobo District, Matabeleland South was stoned and burnt to death by a mob in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg under Operation Dudula, a South African anti-immigrant vigilante group.

There have been allegations that Operation Dududula has received support from some ANC leaders who are riding on an anti-migrant populism wave to mask its own failures in the government.

Mhlanga, therefore, urged the South African government to show leadership in order to stop the xenophobic statements from growing further.

“Please reprimand those behind this violence, speak out against this violence and remember that we were together for you to achieve your own independence,” Mhlanga said, noting that South Africans needed Pan African lessons to appreciate other Africans.

Mhlanga acknowledged that the socio-economic problems in Zimbabwe were the root cause of why Zimbabweans crossed the border in their numbers but claimed that South Africa had aided the local crisis by endorsing the country’s elections.

“Many times, we have voted and after the outcome say our elections have been rigged but South Africa does not act against that,” he lamented.

“We need leaders to be honest with each other and confront these issues as they affect everyone.”

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