Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Mandela's wife warns Mozambique of possible revolt
MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) -- Thousands of destitute Mozambicans who fled anti-foreigner violence in South Africa may revolt against their home government if their needs are not met, according to a woman with a unique perspective on both countries.
Graca Machel-Mandela, shown in April, told Mozambique it must help the destitute who have returned.
Former Mozambican first lady Graca Machel, who is married to former South African President Nelson Mandela and is a child rights advocate, spoke Wednesday in the Mozambican capital during a conference on ethnic cleansing.
A wave of attacks against immigrants in South Africa, which killed at least 60 people in May, drove 39,000 Mozambicans back home, authorities say.
Some fled on crowded buses sent by the Mozambican government; others took trains or found other ways to return. Once they arrived, however, most became dependent on others for survival.
"For the first few weeks, they will cry on the shoulders of their families for having lost everything," Machel said. "Then they will go and cry to the government, and at the end they will revolt against the government and all who are around them."
South Africans killed 27 Mozambicans during the violence, accusing them and other immigrants of taking jobs and committing crime.
Thousands protest South Africa's crime wave
Protesters denounce anti-foreigner violence in South Africa
Although not all were assaulted during the attacks, accounts of violence, including a photograph of a burning Mozambican man on the front pages of local newspapers, were enough to persuade many to leave.
Machel said inadequate living conditions in South Africa's poorest areas, rather than hatred of foreigners, sparked the attacks. She said the violence was the result of years of unmonitored immigration that put enormous pressure on South Africa's urban infrastructure.
"Extreme poverty dehumanizes people and leads them to madness," she said. "That's what happened in Rwanda over 10 years ago."
South Africa -- considered the African powerhouse -- has long been a magnet for people fleeing poverty or violence in other nations on the continent. Up to 3 million Zimbabweans alone are believed to be in South Africa because of the economic meltdown and political repression in their country.
Delegates from Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe attended the meeting Machel addressed.
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All About Graca Machel • Mozambique • Nelson Mandela • South Africa