Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has expressed concern over the recent outbreak of xenophobic attacks in Durban, South Africa, saying local business were at risk given that they use the Durban port for key imports.
Violent attacks by South Africans on foreigners living and working in that country have killed at least three foreign nationals and displaced thousands others, since the savage attacks broke out last week in the south western port city.
The violent protests over foreigners living and working in South Africa, saw protesters throw stones, burning vehicles, blocking roads and targeting trucks carrying imported raw materials and foods destined for northern parts of Africa.
The CZI president Sifelani Jabangwe said at the weekend that they were concerned by the disturbances given that the use of Durban port by local businesses had increased following the damage to infrastructure by Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique.
“I spoke to the Minister of Industry yesterday about this and told him that I was concerned that not enough was being done to manage this. From a business perspective, we are at risk as Durban is our main trade route,” he said.
However, relative calm appears to have returned to the South African port with efforts said to be underway to reintegrate those that had been displaced or repatriate foreigners who requested to be taken back to their countries.
Durban has become of even more strategic importance after tropical Cyclone Idai swept through parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi leaving in its wake a trail of extensive destruction on property and infrastructure.
The cyclone killed hundreds of people (843 confirmed dead), left many homeless while scores were displaced in the affected areas. Mozambique’s port city of Beira was the most devastated.
Hundreds of thousands of people are in need of food, water and shelter after Cyclone Idai battered parts of neighbouring countries Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) said the economic cost and social impact of the cyclone to the affected countries, and indeed the entire region, was immeasurable.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the violence against foreigners in South Africa and called on law enforcement agencies to act against those who commit xenophobic crimes.
“As South Africans, we owe our freedom to the solidarity and support given to our liberation struggle by people across our continent and around the world,” President Ramaphosa said in a brief statement.
The South African leader also said the domestic economy and society benefits from extensive trade and investment relations with partners on
the continent and “many of our continental compatriots live in South Africa, where they are making important contributions to the development of our country.”
Last Tuesday, local residents of Durban raided the homes of some foreign nationals, forcing them to seek refuge at nearby police stations and mosques.
South African Cabinet ministers Lindiwe Sisulu and Bheki Cele on Monday led an engagement with heads of diplomatic missions to work out how to better integrate communities in South Africa.