Speaking at a regional summit on industrialization, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has urged migrants in South Africa to return home. There has a been a month of attacks on foreign workers in South Africa.
The leaders of the fifteen member states of the Southern African Development Community met in Zimbabwe on Wednesday. The aim of the meeting was to discuss a strategy for economic growth by exploiting mineral resources through industrialization.
The recent spate of attacks on foreigners in South Africa was not on the official agenda for discussion - but has dominated the meeting. Workers from countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi have been targeted in xenophobic attacks over the last month.
In an opening speech at the Harare conference, President Robert Mugabe said the country's neighbors should do more to prevent migrants going to South Africa, and get those already there to go back home. "We, the neighbors, must do what we can to prevent more people into South Africa and get those in South Africa to get back home," he said.
"Long ago, going to South Africa was like going to heaven on earth," Mugabe told reporters after the meeting.
"The majority of our people go to work on farms. Then they run away from farms to start new lives in the cities. But why do that? People must get back to their own countries," Mugabe said.
"Our people should not have the instinct of rushing into South Africa," the Zimbabwean premier said. "What we can do in the circumstances is not just to criticise but also to assist the government and people of South Africa."
Earlier this week, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma caused controversy by asking why citizens from neighboring countries came to the country. "We cannot shy away from discussing the reasons that forced migrants to flee to South Africa," he said on Monday. "All of us need to handle our citizens with care."
Graca Machel, the widow of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, called for African unity. She attended a memorial service for one of the seven people to have died in xenophobic attacks. Machel said the murder of Mozambican Manuel Jossias was "a symbol of what must not happen again."
"Migration is in our blood! The borders were created by colonisers. They mean nothing to us because we are one," Machel said on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, regulators ended the license for Holland's VimpelCom telecom company to operate Telecel Zimbabwe, partly for breaching black empowerment laws.
"The Telecel Zimbabwe licence has been cancelled... with effect from 28 April 2015," the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) said in a statement.
VimpelCom has a 60 percent stake in Telecel Zimbabwe, making it the major shareholder in the service with two million subscribers.
Telecel Zimbabwe issued a statement on its website saying "This measure is unfair and unwarranted. Telecel has made every effort to comply with all legal and governmental requirements in Zimbabwe, and objects to this treatment in the strongest terms."
"Telecel and its global shareholders are taking immediate action both locally and internationally to challenge this decision," the company said.
jm/bw (AFP, AP)