Julius Malema’s resolute position against xenophobia was again made clear at an Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF) rally at Rustenburg in the North West province of South Africa. He told the crowd, “There is no Nigerian who ‘stole’ an industry and then hired Nigerians only. There is no Zimbabwean who got a farm in Stellenbosch and then hired Zimbabweans. It is your white people who hire Zimbabweans and then pay them a low wage so that you can fight amongst yourselves as Africans.”

Malema’s speech came at a time when the EFF was campaigning in preparation for the general election scheduled for 8 May 2019. Xenophobic attacks recently took place in KwaZulu-Natal in which three people died, and shops owned by Africans from other countries were targeted and looted. South Africa’s Minister of International Affairs, Lindiwe Sisulu, organised a meeting with African diplomats to address the attacks. She said, “All criminal activities and looting of properties of foreign nationals will not be tolerated‚ and the police and other law-enforcement agencies must act without fear or favour.”

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Malema told his supporters at the rally in Rustenburg, “Don’t glorify these borders. These borders were never here. These borders were imposed on us by white people who wanted to divide Africa and do what they wanted to do with this continent. I am ashamed today to call myself a South African. You are beating blacks; you are slaughtering Africans. I have never seen you doing that to a Chinese person. I have never seen you doing that to a white person who doesn’t have papers. I have never seen you do that to an Indian without papers. But once they say it’s an African, because you hate yourself, because white people taught you to hate yourself, you kill other Africans. . . We must unite as Africans.”

Malema’s speech has been widely received and commented on. He further said, “If you are not going to vote for the EFF because we say you must love Africans, you can keep your vote. We don’t want votes from people who are xenophobic. Without unity among Africans we will be exploited forever, by Europe, by America and now by China.”

South Africa’s history of xenophobia has been one of the leading conversations on the continent this week. Xenophobic attacks are common and widespread attacks took place in 2008 and 2015.