President Cyril Ramaphosa has said Zimbabweans who booed him at the funeral of the late Robert Mugabe were expressing their anger against South Africans.
The crowd at a stadium in Harare booed Ramaphosa as soon as he began addressing them on Saturday.
However, they cheered him when he apologised for the recent xenophobic unrest and assured them that South Africans are not xenophobic.
Speaking at the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) national congress in Durban on Monday, Ramaphosa said the booing wasn’t directed at him personally.
They expressed their disappointment, expressed their unhappiness. They expressed their anger against us as South Africans, and they saw me as representing all of us in South Africa.
Their reaction was against us. The whole stadium, some 40,000 people, booed me.President Cyril Ramaphosa
‘I have apologised’
The president acknowledged that the crowd’s mood became positive as soon as he apologised.
I have apologised on your behalf, and I hope it does sink into our consciousness that the world expects us to act in a way where we will respect the rights of people of other nations.Cyril Ramaphosa
Ramaphosa said the world places South Africa at a much higher pedestal because of its Constitution “that enshrines the rights of everyone.”
He added that the Freedom Charter, which was adopted in the 1950s, says that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it.”
He urged South Africans to refrain from targeting foreign nationals because their countries also contribute to South Africa’s economy.
The president reiterated that everyone in the country, whether citizens or foreign nationals, must obey the law.