Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change says President Robert Mugabe should resign in the wake of his “highly misguided” comments about Kalangas which have sparked outrage.
Spokesperson Obert Gutu said in a statement on Thursday that Mugabe’s jibe at the end of a SADC summit in Harare this week “borders on advanced levels of senility”.
Responding to a question on the xenophobic violence that has swept through parts of Durban and Johannesburg this month, Mugabe said that in the past Kalangas were reputed to be crooks and weren’t educated enough to take on jobs.
Some Zimbabweans saw the comments as evidence Mugabe was partly blaming victims of the xenophobic attacks for what happened.
Gutu said: “It has become very clear that Mugabe’s politics has become archaic and irrelevant to modern dictates of world political order.
“We therefore call upon Mugabe to do the noble thing and resign first as the chairperson of the two regional bodies [SADC and AU, both of which Mugabe chairs] and also as the president of this country as he no longer has the gravitas and requisite capacity to take these important institutions to the next level,” The spokesperson for the Morgan Tsvangirai-led party said.
A separate Movement for Democratic Change group led by Welshman Ncube said in a statement that Mugabe’s comments on Kalangas were “nauseatingly tribalistic, divisive and extremely hurtful”.
“All Zimbabweans, including Kalangas, pay taxes where [Mugabe] personally draws a salary and allowance and a very heavy medical care and unprofitable travel bill,” the MDC statement said.
Many Kalangas live in Zimbabwe’s south-western Matabeleland provinces, where rates of migration to South Africa are highest and where support for the opposition is also strong.
At least seven people, including one Zimbabwean, were confirmed killed in the attacks.
Zimbabwe has repatriated nearly 900 of its citizens, but Mugabe said on Wednesday that many of the male returnees want to return to South Africa.