Johannesburg - Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) President Emeritus, Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, on Sunday had a tough time trying to address a crowd about dangers of the ongoing xenophobic violence in Johannesburg.
Buthelezi had to first plead for calm and later had to shout curses as the crowd of about 5000 people that had gathered at Julie's Park in Johannesburg ran amok when he told them to accept foreign nationals who are legally living in the country.
His speech was disrupted several times and headmen (Izinduna) that came from the city's hostels had to intervene to plead for calm. However, the attempt yielded no results as the disruptive crowd insisted on expelling all foreign nationals, implying that they are behind some crimes and high unemployment rate in the country.
Speaking to the crowd in Zulu, Buthelezi put the blame on the influx of undocumented foreign nationals in the country on the constitution which says the country belongs to all those who live in it.
“This is the reason why we have so many troubles in the country. This was caused by us when we were drafting the constitution after freedom. I understand your concerns about unemployment and the stagnating economy… I understand your concerns and those from foreign and have concerns as well” Buthelezi said in Zulu, adding that the concerns “has not come out of nowhere”.
Later in his disrupted speech, Buthelezi said he was not there to stoke the flames but to urge people to calm them and not opt for mob justice to solve the crisis. He reminded the crowd that the ongoing attacks on foreign nationals will have serious consequences on the country as it has got investments in other countries.
“Don’t think these things have no consequences. This violence has diplomatic and economic ramifications. We have hundreds of thousands of South Africans living in countries throughout Africa. We have businesses and companies operating across this continent. We have vital trade relations within the African Union and within SADC, the Southern African Development Community. South Africa is not an island,” Buthelezi said.
Going back to his time as the minister of Home Affairs between 1994 and 2004, Buthelezi said he tried to deal with influx of undocumented foreign nationals but said he was vilified for that even by his cabinet colleagues.He said even some senior figures from Mozambique complained, saying he was ill treating their citizens living in the country.
“There were complaints when we deported them… We would deport them with trains and two days later they would come back,” he said.
Buthelezi blamed the disruption on people who came to the gathering drunk. He added that the main aim of the gathering was to ensure that the violence stops as it was reflecting badly on the country's reputation.