President Jacob Zuma is known for his wordy and tedious speeches. It’s when he starts to speak off the cuff that people’s ears really perk up. His Freedom Day speech was no different. In fact, it was a mess – a closet xenophobic, marginally anti-African mess.
You can read the full text in all its dreariness here.
You will easily find the bit where he speaks of “the Mozambican citizen Manuel Jossias, who was identified by the media as Emmanuel Sithole”, a man “killed during a callous robbery” – transcribed as “careless robbery” in some media – and the bit where he points out that Sithole (Jossias) had “used a false name to avoid detection by authorities as he was an illegal immigrant”.
What you won’t find are the bits where Zuma said:
“As much as we have a problem that is alleged to be xenophobic, our sister countries contribute to this. Why are their citizens not in their countries and are in South Africa?”
All of which just goes to show that you can have solidarity march after solidarity march but if the president himself can’t tell when he’s being a xenophobe, you’re not really going to get anywhere with preventing violence against non-South Africans.