PRETORIA - Zambia on Monday expressed "deep concerns" with the latest wave of attacks on foreign nationals in parts of South Africa.
"We are beginning to worry that this is becoming cyclical, it is beginning to appear like a routine. Our biggest concern is that we have elections coming up on 8th May ... and the foreigners might be blamed for lack of jobs, lack of housing and services and opportunities," Zambia's High Commissioner in South Africa, Emmanuel Mwamba, told the African News Agency (ANA) in Pretoria.
"We need to urge our political leaders to ensure that they do not speak carelessly, that they speak responsibly. A foreigner, whether documented or not, whether legal or not, has fundamental human rights. They should not be beaten or stoned and their properties taken willy-nilly."
The Zambian government has been vocal against the latest wave of attacks on African immigrants in South Africa.
This weekend, Zambia's President Edgar Lungu called on the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) chairperson, Namibian President Hage Geingob, to express concerns over the violence.
On Monday morning, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, accompanied by Police Minister Bheki Cele hosted an urgent meeting with African ambassadors in Pretoria to discuss the current spate of violence targeting foreign nationals and their properties.
The South African government acknowledged the significant contribution and sacrifices made by the African continent for South Africans to be free and liberated from the shackles of apartheid.
On Thursday, the South African government said it was concerned about the reported attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal, and urged law enforcement agencies to ensure that perpetrators of these violent acts are brought to book.
Last week, more than 150 foreigners living in an informal settlement in Clare Estate in Durban had to flee the area after they were attacked by a group of men.
Several messages were doing the rounds in the country, warning of protests against the employment of foreign nationals in the country.
Attending the high-level Pretoria meeting on Monday, Zimbabwe's Ambassador David Hamadziripi said he was encouraged by the South African government's stance.
"We are of a strong view that violence targeted at anyone - whether a foreign national or a South African - is unacceptable. Now the South African government has called us here to come and express our concerns and we will certainly do so in the meeting," said Hamadziripi.
African News Agency (ANA)