Gabarone – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe laid the blame for xenophobic violence in South Africa on white people, because he said they still owned most of the land and had most of the opportunities.
“It is a matter of the whites keeping things to themselves and the political dispensation brought in by Mandela, (that) did not address the question of disparities between whites and blacks, and this is what must be addressed,” he said at a press conference after visiting the headquarters of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat here. Mugabe is the current chairperson of SADC.
Mugabe said he was satisfied with the South African government’s response to the attacks. But he added that unemployment in South Africa and white dominance of land ownership made the xenophobic attacks understandable.
“Most of the land is in the hands of the whites who are in a minority…They are not talking in their country of whites being unemployed. It is blacks who are unemployed, this is what they must address first and foremost,” said Mugabe, calling for a second liberation to redress these inequalities.
South Africa should be helped to overcome the problem that former oppressors were still occupying the old positions and the advantages that they allocated to themselves during colonialism.
Countries like Zimbabwe had overcome oppression and inequalities of land ownership.
“But if you go to SA it is a different story, we need to help them, they need another liberation,” he said.
Mugabe and SADC executive secretary Stergomena Tax, dismissed suggestions that his reception in Botswana was inadequate. Some local media put this down to the chilly relations between Mugabe and Botswana President Ian Khama, the deputy chairperson of SADC, who has in the past criticised the lack of democracy in Zimbabwe and differed from SADC when it declared the 2013 elections free and fair.
But Mugabe said he had not come on a state visit and so did not expect to be welcomed with much formal ceremony. He did have a private meeting with Khama over lunch and said relations between the two were friendly and that it was journalists who had created the idea that they were not friendly.
And he shrugged off Botswana’s opinion of the Zimbabwe elections, saying perhaps Botswana had seen certain incidents that others had not seen.
Mugabe had a dig at South Africa’s economic dominance of the region, and suggested Khama shared his view. “Right now some of us are complaining about the bigness of SA, a giant establishing itself. That is what we discussed at the meeting, that if we are trying to establish our industries they are blocked.”
“For example, pharmaceuticals. We produce some drugs, and they are in demand. We want to send them to SA then those officials in trade say we will only receive them if they come by air. We say no it is much more costly to send them to SA by air, we have planes, yes, but the planes are expensive, we can send them by road, they say no. You see, that is contrary to our free trade principles, there are lots of things we still have to discuss amongst us.”
He also noted that there was a one-way trade of South African beer into other SADC countries.