Cape Town(New Ziana) – South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Thursday the majority of South Africans were against the on-going xenophobic attacks on migrant Africans living in the country.
For over a week, mobs of mainly young South Africans have attacked and looted shops and businesses owned by foreign African migrants in Johannesburg and other cities, resulting in the death of five people, and scores of injuries.
This has drawn widespread criticism from across Africa, and led to retaliation against South African businesses in Nigeria and Mozambique.
Officially opening the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa on behalf of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who skipped the event to help tackle another violence-related topical issue in South Africa, gender-based violence, Mboweni said the xenophobic attacks did not represent the attitude of the country towards fellow Africans, nor was this widely shared.
Mboweni said he favoured the free movement of people across the continent.
“If we are going to allow the (free) movement of people, one cannot be in this position where you allow this person but do not allow the other. If a South African wants to live in Abuja they should be free to do so. As an African I should settle anywhere I want, why should I not be allowed to go and settle in Uganda and be a farmer?” he asked.
“These artificial barriers that we have created, and this hatred amongst ourselves must really be a thing of the past. We are all Africans and we need to begin to inculcate within ourselves the mentality that we are all Africans.”
The Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the United Nations have condemned the violence.