Maputo — The Mozambican Christian Council (CCM), the umbrella body for the mainstream Protestant churches, has deplored the silence of the Mozambican government in the face of the anti-foreigner riots in South Africa.
At a press conference in Maputo on Saturday, the CCM chairperson, Felicidade Chirindze, urged the government to take a stand against "the xenophobia which occurs cyclically in South Africa", a country that had been built "with the sweat and blood of many Mozambicans and other Africans alongside their South African brothers".
Mozambicans should not be viewed as "intruders" in South Africa, she insisted. "The South Africans must learn co-existence, and they will only gain from this".
Chirindze urged Mozambicans not to retaliate against South African visitors to the country. "The spread of violence worries us", she said, "and we are here to call our brothers to their senses, because we should not destroy each other. So we urge our Mozambican brothers not to resort to violence. In our country, we have room to protest, and to claim better treatment in defence of our rights, but the spectre of violence and war should be buried once and for all".
The chairperson of the CCM's Reconciliation, Justice and Peace Commission, Bishop Dinis Matsolo, also lamented the silence on the matter from both the Mozambican and South African governments.
This, he said, "is causing great concern among citizens". He thought there were actions which could be taken "to force the South African government to face the matter more seriously".
Matsolo said the CCM is in contact with South African churches to persuade the government to take action to end the wave of violence. "We urge the Christian churches and the government to bank more on education, because it's a question of systems, and South Africa should educate its people", he declared.
Since the start of this month, at least 10 people have died in the xenophobic violence. None of them are Mozambicans, but at least 544 Mozambicans have lost their homes in the violence and 397 of them have expressed a desire to return to Mozambique.