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Alba Iulia
Friday, April 3, 2020

Xenophobia, the ugly outcome of poverty and our inherent identity crisis.

Columns Xenophobia, the ugly outcome of poverty and our inherent identity crisis.

Emmanuel Mwamba

By Ambassador Emmanuel Mwamba

Okey people, let’s gather here and discuss.

By now you have been numbed by the numerous horrific videos shared on social media depicting the ghastly attacks against foreign nationals.

Some are new, others are old but are circulated during this period.

They cause the same outrage as when they occurred in 2008 or 2015.

And then there is the rise of fake news during this period, which causes similar outrage and tensions.

But first things first.

We must condemn using the inerrant truth, without hesitation and without resorting to excuses, ablution of facts or entertaining justifications, the recent xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals occuring in South Africa.

Our condemnation should be in an unequivocal and unambiguous voice.

The senseless loss of precious lives, the wanton looting and damage to property is totally unacceptable.

This also violates fundamental human rights such as right to life, and right to property.

Life is sacred, foreign or local, documented or undocumented, illegal or legal, it remains so.

Further the sense of deep fear, trauma and uncertainty caused to foreign nationals by these attacks during this period is unimaginable.

We are all troubled that no one seems to held accountable, or given punitive and deterrent measures for the killing of innocent lives and the pillaging of property from innocent people.

Causes and reasons of xenophobia advanced in South Africa include socio-economic reasons such as high unemployment rate(foreigners are taking our jobs ), poverty and inadequate or lack of provisions of social services and crime.

South Africa has a population of over 56million and contrary to what is asserted has actually a small number of foreign nationals of about 2.1million (including Africans, Chinese, Indians, Pakistans and others).

South Africa has the most industrialized economy and its manufacturing sector is the largest in Africa(and as an export country, relies on the rest of Africa’s market).

The size of its economy is only comparable to Nigeria and Egypt

How is Zambia affected by the attacks?

In the case of Zambia, only two Zambians out of 15,000 of those residents in South Africa, have been directly affected by the recent xenophobic attacks.( a truck driver and one resident in South Africa).

Of course we are not denigrating the sense of fear by those Zambians resident in South Africa.

We must begin to put things in perspective so that we don’t encourage disproportionate or unwarranted retaliatory responses and reactions, in both Zambia and South Africa.

It must be said with reference to our rich struggle history, that Zambia stands in solidarity with the rest of Africa and should never allow the injury, maiming and killing of any African and the dispossession of one’s hard-earned property.

But we must strike the balance.

Zambia is among the few states that have her nationals in the smallest number.

Zambia has engineers, doctors, nurses, bankers, accountants and others earning a livelihood in South Africa’s business entities.

We also have a number of small and medium entrepreneurs and those in the informal sector.

Further, Zambians have a good record in the country and are law-abiding residents and only a handful are in prison.

However Zambia is one of the largest trading, economic and investment partner with South Africa in the region.

Zambia hosts over 120 South African companies that have invested in Zambia including giants like MTN, Shoprite, Standard Bank and FNB Bank.

South African Airways flies more frequently to Lusaka, Ndola, and Livingstone than it does to the rest of the world.

There are hundreds of trucks moving up and down and numerous buses per day transporting people between the two states every day.

It is for this reason that this particular wave of attacks against foreign nationals affected Zambia more, as it initially was focused on trucks.

This threatened Zambia’s sea route for its imports (Durban), and also threatened the trade between the two states as protesting truck drivers were threatening to blockade and destroy any foreign truck or that driven by a foreign national.

It must be emphasised that Zambia shares this corridor with our neighboring states, Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) and Malawi.

As a result, the truck traffic between Zambia and South Africa is huge.

It is also for this reason that we are investing in the US$259million Kazungula Bridge project, over the mighty Zambezi River.

Until Zambia improves tremendously our other sea routes (TAZARA, and Great North Road, Nakonde-Daresalaam Port, Chingola-Lubumbanshi-Bengwela rail to Lobito Bay Port, Livingstone-Sesheke-Walvis Bay Port, and Chipata-Lilongwe -Nakala Port, and Beira Port), Durban so far remains our reliable port.


We must find a lasting solution to these xenophobic tendencies have become cyclical and seasonal.

Many africans express indignation that South Africans have shown lack of gratitude to the immense sacrifices made by countries such as Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria and others.in ensuring that it attained its Freedom.

This is attributed to South Africa’s youth that are form a large population of the country and might not be intimately aware of these facts or the facts appear distant to them.

This is the load of work that leaders of South Africa have to do.

This has to be done by writing its recent history, memorializing the struggle and by introducing these facts through film, art and other popular forms of education.

We should also remember that to achieve its Freedom, many South African leaders that prosecuted the struggle were in 3 categories.

Those that went into exile (Oliver Tambo, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma and others), those that were jailed and were in prison (Nelson Mandela, Govani Mbeki, Walter Sisulu) and others like President Cyril Ramaphosa, Albertina Sisulu and Winnie Mandela that waged the struggle on the streets.

Many pillars were used to wage this long and relentless struggle that included; the liberation parties and its military wings, trade unions, the Church and external support from countries like Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and others.

Zambia has been lucky and is also respected for her role during the liberation struggle.

It must be noted that no Zambian has died so far from the xenophobic attacks that occurred in; 2008, 2015, 2016, 2018 and the 2019.

But Africa is matching towards free movement of people and goods.

Africa is moving to a borderless, and barrier-free Africa.

African member states have since implemented the Africa Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA) agreement.

Africa has achieved so much for its progress to be negated by xenophobia and xenophobic tendencies.

The author is Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union and previously served as High Commissioner to South Africa

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  1. Well said. They should consider enhancing the study of social sciences in their schools. For it is the study of such the makes socially intelligent people.

  2. Emmanuel, your audience should be South Africans and not us Zambians. Send that article to The Soweto-an. Let them read it.
    Zambians we are known to be cool, except the PF are messing up, increasing violence where RB’s MMD left off.

    • Problem with you Nosradamosothing, however your points good as they may be, you have a boil on your ass against the PF. Can we forego political bull crap for once and concentrate on the problem of the south africans killing your fellow africans and family nigger?

  3. Guys the Bible through Jesus the wisest man that ever lived says “before you pluck out the speck of dust in your neighbours eye remove the plank in your own!”

    Firstly some of these nations crying foul on xenophobia are themselves culprits… Nigerians who want to cry the loudest have expelled Fulani tribesmen from neighbouring countries such as Niger and Chad often killing them on site, Kenyans only yesterday wanted to close down one if the largest refugee camps in Africa which provided for close to a million Somalis, Zambia yes our own Zambia a few years ago had a crisis where we had to have soldiers restore peace after violent anti foreigner riots in Lusaka…the point being let’s not be too quick to condemn. Yes what keeps happening in SA is bad but let’s sort our own problems…

    • Ctn…Yes what keeps happening in SA is bad but let’s sort our own problems with xenophobia as well.

      Also alot of the videos on social media are of incidents that occurred in other countries, there was also one with an impersonator pretending to be South African but on listening carefully you can detect the Nigerian accent.

      Don’t be a victim of fake news and use your judgement wisely.


  5. Let us create employment for Zambians then there will be NO NEED to go begging in SA. Keep & feed your children in your house not to always feed at the next door house. We must be ashamed that we are NOT providing for our citizens.

  6. The lesson here is to make Zambia great. Avoid unnecessary national mistakes such as retiring people on ethnic or regional grounds just because they resisted your advances to become corrupt or lawless. Let’s be honest as Zambia leaders.

  7. Good but not very well balanced. What about the rest of Africa forging stronger relations with the rest of Africa. You have pointed out the SA is our largest trade partner. In business if your portfolio is monopolized by 1 item or segment of clientele, you face going concern issues via concentration risk and you must diversify or risk going down should something happen to that segment. SA is a going concern issue for us with a huge threat of crippling our economy. We must diversify the portfolio! We must look at other trade partners. It will be hard but it must be done!

    SA does not want us and this will only get worse as more of their old guard die out. We are that uncle who keeps reminding the youngsters that we used to buy them sweets 20 years ago and so they should be grateful. The…

  8. Even if no Zambian has died in South Africa, the people who are being killed are Africans. Slave trade,apartheid and colonialism affected the whole continent of Africa. When my neighbor’s house is on fire, I need to assist in quenching the fire. Africa has gone through a lot of oppression and slavery. It is pointless that we start exterminating each other as Africans. The boundaries that were created by our colonial masters should not be a recipe of hate and mayhem. Africa should unite for a common cause of eradicating poverty,diseases and ignorance. Mayhem in South Africa can trigger greater extermination of the whole continent.

  9. As long as South Africa has a devil’s constitution, they will remain barbaric how can you burn your fellow human being and you have that hopeless Police Minister in that country justifying that South Africa has been invaded by foreigners…how dull can these good for nothing danderheads be if not suffering from acute inferiority complex because white foreigners and other races are not being targeted… Trevor Noah is right on what he’s described the failure of the South African government and leadership who have nothing to offer because a white minority holds that economy…

    • You are not making any sense. Trevor Noah never said what you are saying. The economy of SA is in the hands of workers through their pension funds. Yes SA is invaded by non-tax-paying foreigners while Zambia is invaded by tax paying SA companies. Please service your debt with China

    • @Makavhere,the truth has really hit you…Zambia has never failed to pay it’s debt with anyone…Trevor Noah actually nailed the head by saying South Africans suffer from inferiority complex just Google that you will find it…For your own information Zambians have employed South Africans by buying their products but that can change anytime …there’s nothing permanent and it’s your economy that will suffer most cos Zambia can look elsewhere due to the buying power it posses otherwise your companies wouldn’t have come to our great Zambia


  11. Emanuel was quite proactive in SA and could have been a contributing factor why we were respected in that country. The people inciting this violence have an agenda to destabilise the work done on uniting Africa. Africa united is a serious threat to the imperialists who have banked this continent as their foreign reserve. We need to wake up and not fall for these tricks designed to take us backwards.

  12. “In the case of Zambia, only two Zambians out of 15,000 of those residents in South Africa, have been directly affected by the recent xenophobic attacks.( a truck driver and one resident in South Africa).”…..even if it is one person affected, it is still significant. Each and every one of your citizens is important and deserves attention. The USA has 327 million people, but just try to touch one of them and you see what will happen.

  13. Xenophobic attacks would continue in light or in darkness in South Africa. The problem was critical but leadership adopted a wait-and-see attitude. They were wrong to adopt the laissez-faire attitude to one of the most burning social issues of our time. The appointment of a Commission of Inquiry would go a long way in crating a favorable environment for regional peace and stability. Visitors needed to understand that hosts could only entertain a relatively low number of foreign migrants. It was political to blame someone. It was economic to adopt cut-throat competition tactics. It was cultural to exclude uncultured new arrivals. It was linguistic to resist linguistic manipulation. Take time to develop local employment. Take time to crate local industries. Take time to know Africa.

  14. Well said our future president.writing from experience ..mwamba has great leadership qualities. Keep it up our former Ambassador. This is the man who used to bring investors from South Africa to Zambia. Trying by all means to create jobs back home.I like the man

  15. Well said article full of facts…hoping you people being better placed have condemned Ramaphosa for his video circulating on social media about him being against foreign African Nationals…take him to task

  16. My fellows Zambians let us understand the Black South African.
    They only know incaceration, tribal wars and enslavement by fellow balcks. Remember SHAKA.
    This Xenophobia is a continuation of the Black curse.
    West African slave sellers where fellow blacks. Ethnic tribal wars continue today in more than 50%of AFRICA.
    Remember RWANDA.
    Fellow Zambians just watch your step.
    The African curse continues.

    Black on black violence is all over the continent.
    From slave trade (blacks selling fellow blacks to whites)
    Genocide (RWANDA), tribal wars (active in 50% of African countries) SHAKA.
    Now Xenophobia.
    The curse continues.

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