Editor's Comment

Eye for an eye blinds everyone

MAHATMA Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. His view was premised on the fact that repaying evil for evil is never a solution but, instead, creates even a much bigger problem.
In the same vein, Michelle Obama said “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level.”
Similarly, while we condemn in the strongest terms the attacks on black foreigners by some South Africans, we do not believe retaliating with violence is the solution.
It is for this reason that we support President Lungu in condemning acts of violence orchestrated by some University of Zambia (UNZA) students to protest against the attacks on Zambians and other nationals by South Africans.
Yesterday UNZA students took to the streets to protest the injustices being committed against fellow Zambians. The students started by burning trolleys for Pick n’ Pay and causing damage to South African supermarkets in shopping malls around Lusaka.
Students also marched to the South African High Commission where they destroyed a billboard while chanting anti-xenophobia slogans.
At the South African High Commission the students were restrained from causing further damage by vigilant police officers.
As a result of student protests’, business yesterday came to a standstill in most shopping malls as shops closed for fear of looting.
While in the minds of the students, their actions were targeted at South African owners, the sad reality is that Zambians were also affected.
As rightly observed by the head of State, the students’ actions cannot be condoned because they are not only criminal but affect the livelihoods of Zambians.
For instance, it is Zambians that earn a living by working in these shops.
It is also Zambians who benefit by accessing a variety of commodities in these shops.
As per government policy, foreign supermarkets also stock a significant amount of local products.
By closing shop, local suppliers are also affected by taking away a readily available market for their products.
At national level any lost business deprives Government of potential revenue through taxes.
Students as intellectuals should understand better than anybody else the implications of their actions.
While it is their constitutional right to protest, this must be done within acceptable parameters of peace.
Apparently, the students planned a peaceful protest but it degenerated into some measure of violence, as would be expected in such mobs. The students should have confined their protest within their campus and selected representatives to present their petition to the High Commission.
The issue at hand should be handled with care to prevent the region and continent as a whole from plunging into worse confrontation.
As a continent there is need to guard against that, especially at a time as this when efforts are being channelled towards a united Africa, through social and economic integration.
Through initiatives like the Free Trade Area, African countries envisage trading more among themselves.
Africa must realise that it takes the same commitment and collaboration demonstrated during the political struggle to also win the economic battle.
Africa is richly endowed with natural resources which need to be harnessed to develop the continent and improve the living standards of the people.
However, this can only be so if African countries unite and support one another.
However, the xenophobic attacks being perpetrated by some South Africans have potential to prevent the continent from actualising its full potential and eroding the gains made so far.
We therefore expect South African authorities to act decisively and end the attacks of black foreigners in that country.
President Lungu is right in saying the continued attacks on foreigners, have potential to isolate South Africa from the rest of the civilised world.
No country, no matter how wealthy, can survive on its own. All countries need the support of others. For instance, South Africa’s economy is blossoming because other countries like Zambia are providing a huge market for its products.
South Africans should understand that it is for their own good to stop the senseless victimisation of innocent foreigners.

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